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 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.


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.

Empties Update

In an effort to curb the sheer amount of waste I see around me, I have been on a rampage of using things up: in the kitchen, in the bathroom, at work, (inappropriately) in other people’s lives. This rampage has also been driven by a level of upsettedness at how much I seem to have accumulated in my life that drags me down. I can barely stomach looking in my wardrobe it’s so packed with crap that I can’t deal with.

I wrote a bit about the joy of empties in the past. I’m feeling very smug because I’ve keep the process up, and can share with you the little stash of empties I’ve amassed since I began my focussed attempts at using what I have in lieu of accumulating more.


You may recall me banging on about this little tube of wonder in my skin overhaul series. This little guy goes for about $33 at Priceline and does wonders for rejuvenating your skin’s hydration levels and plumping out the fine lines that pop up when you aren’t giving your skin some tender loving. This tube lasted me about 2.5 months of twice-daily use. I also accidentally used way too much in the early days, so I’m confident of it’s longevity. It has already been pre-purchased and is a non-negotiable element of my morning skincare regime.

Clinique Take Off the Day Balm 

Although pricier than your standard wiping alcohol makeup remover you can grab off the shelf at Woollies, this melting balm both thoroughly removes your makeup and acts as a healing and cleansing balm on your poor face which has spent the day dealing with the world. This tub lasted me around 3 months. I love that I don’t need to use those little makeup pad wipes to remove my makeup and I love how this product helps me double cleanse in the evenings.

Lancôme night creme

This little tester was picked up in a Sephora purchase. I mainly used it to get it out of my life – and I am glad it is out of my life. A little potent and a little not right for my skin,

Clinique moisture surge 

This little sample was gifted to me by my Wedding Skincare Consultant. It is AMAZING. The product goes on so smoothly and is cooling and hydrating and made my skin feel ready for the day. I’m waiting for the magical money fairy to fly by and let me buy this in full size one day; until then I’m ruthlessly working through some cupboard-hidden moisturisers.

Garnier shampoo & conditioner

Purchased in a moment of panic at Priceline when I walked in and felt like I had to buy something. Perfectly fine but leaves my hair a little flat. Will not repurchase save for Priceline brain-fart situations.

Rexona Travel-Sized Deoderant

These mini purchases breed in my handbags and desk drawers. As with everything else, I’m methodically working my way through them. One down. One thousand to go.

Aesop Face Mask Sample

Aesop gifted me three face mask samples that are promised to reduce acne. I used one last week, and I could feel the impact quite quickly. One down, two to go.

Revlon Foundation

Since my KonMari bathroom purge in 2016, where I discovered I had over 20 liquid foundations of different shapes, sizes and tones hiding in my cupboards, I have been committed to only having one liquid foundation that I studiously use up before purchasing a new one. I’m very happy to say this one is complete. I had already restocked in the form of a Maybelline foundation in the Priceline 40% off cosmetics sale, and am now working my way through this newly preferred brand.

I’m also proud to say I’m getting dangerously close to using up a powder foundation that I’ve had in the cupboard since my university graduation in March 2014. I can see glimmers of the pan, and am dying for the day it is done and used, and I can commit to thoughtful contributions to my makeup collection. In addition to these itemised lists, I’ve also blasted through an entire cake of honey soap that is made in Australia (it was just beautiful), and am now smashing through a bottle of bodywash I received in a subscription box.


In other facets of life, I also listed 31 items of clothes on eBay, sold 9, relisted 14 and donated 8. The most shameful thing about this eBay extravaganza is how disgustingly full my cupboard still is, and how not-lighter I feel despite this purge. These are always excellent times for some self-reflection on why you bought the stuff in the first place, and why it no longer brings you joy, then working out how to continue with refining your tastes, your spending, and yourself. I’m going to be doing another cull this coming weekend, which will both give me a cash diet appropriate activity, as well as hopefully increasing the amount of cash I have to spend in this month of poverty.

Generally I’ve felt super inspired after heading down the no-waste internet search spiral and am now constantly looking for ways to incorporate the principles of using what you have. It is a very slow process, but also deeply rewarding.

April Monthly Challenge: Cash crash diet

April has rolled around. I’ve been dreading it for quite some time, but unsurprisingly, all the dread and fret and worry in the world did not stop time passing, and here we are. The month where my fiance and I have put ourselves into the position of doing long-distance again, for four months until I sneak over for a three week holiday. To distract me from this horrible future, I have set myself a financial monthly challenge, inspired by an article I saw bouncing around the internet recently: I’m going to live on $60 a week, also known as the cash crash diet.

Why am I doing this? There are many reasons, as always.

Solo living is expensive

One necessary outcome of my fiance heading to the United States, and me continuing to rent our apartment, is that there is one less Australian stream of income, and 50% more of living costs to cover. I do not intend skipping any rent payments or missing any bills, and unfortunately my trusty and reliable team account contributor will be making the wrong kind of dollars. So, how I arrange my money is going to take some planning and practice, and the main way I see forward is to start with a very tight belt.

Wedding saving!

I may also have mentioned there is a wedding to pay for in December. We have been fortunate to have very generous parents contributing. However, I’ve been dreaming of this wedding of mine for quite some time, and it is not going to be cheap. Every bit of cash I can squirrel away now results in significantly less stress later.

Learning to be content with less

I often spend to solve my problems. I’m feeling sad – I’ll buy myself a treat. I’m feeling stressed – I’ll buy the latest mindfulness or stress-reduction technique. I’m feeling overwhelmed – I’ll buy new stationery to organise my office. I want to be more stylish – I buy new clothes. None of these steps are necessary or important. In fact, they’re expensive, and are a band-aid over the real issues. This month will be packed with challenging scenarios, and I want to push myself and prove to myself that I am capable of dealing with them, while sticking to the bigger picture.

So this is all very nice. But how will I do it?

Withdraw the cash

Every Monday I’ll withdraw $60 from the ATM on the way to work. Then, when I run out of that $60, that’s it, until the next Monday. This will form a visual reminder of how much I’m able to spend.

Define the bounds of the challenge

This $60 is intended to cover all non-essential or non-budgeted spend for the week. Not included in the $60 is my Netflix, Classpass, Headspace and BBG payments, as well as standard spends such as rent and groceries. I’m also allowing myself a haircut.

Included is takeaway coffee, meals out, treats (including those pesky creme eggs that I can’t seem to resist), entertainment, stationery, clothes, shoes, make-up, skincare (the real test, I desperately want to get a face oil but I don’t need it yet), and any other thing that I don’t absolutely require to get me out of bed and to work, and back again.

Make it possible

I’ve set up a basic notebook where I will write down everything I spend. I’ve also written in that notebook all the things I can do when I feel like spending money. The list is so long: go for a walk, catch up on my Project Life scrapbook, catch up on my 365 daily journalling, write my April letter of the day, practice brush script lettering, go visit my dog, go to the gym, go to a Classpass class, do the ironing, find a new recipe for the week, get on top of wedding planning, deep clean the apartment (I’m ashamed of how badly it needs it), declutter and sell items on eBay, go to the library, read my backlog of paperbacks, do a yoga class on youtube, write an article, write a blog post… seriously I couldn’t write fast enough to keep up with my ideas. It was a fresh reminder of the fact that these ideas exist even when I have cash I think I can burn.

So, wish me luck! Have you ever done a cash crash diet? I’d love to know any tips you have to survive!

Wedding Adventures: The First Foray into Finding the Dress

Weddings are made up of so many things – rings, and vows, and family tiffs, and cake, and food, and terrible dance moves, and planning, and tears, and perfect photos, and flowers, and confusing table decorations, and panic, and questioning. But, at least if the movies / the media / the magazines are to be believed, all of this fades in importance in comparison to THE DRESS.

According to every movie I’ve ever watched (and there’s a lot – I watched Bride Wars on repeat to get me through writing my honours thesis), the search for the dress is a magical time where you waltz into a dress store, and, overcome by the white and the tulle and the sparkle, the lace and the beading and the soft gentle smell of calm bride, you casually point to a random dress, try it on with the assistance of experts who tell you how beautiful you are, only to walk down the runway and onto the block, surrounded by mirrors, while your friends subtley blink back tears and tell you what a stunning bride you are. And boom, decision made. You find THE DRESS, and then go about your merry way being a perfect bride.

Well, that’s a big fat lie. I went for my first foray into finding the dress and it sucked. In fact, it was worse than looking for venues. When I finally escaped from the whole nightmare and got home, I’m not ashamed to say that I sobbed into my fiance’s arms for over an hour (okay I am a little ashamed about that, but it happened, and I can’t change it – it doesn’t even include the drive home where I sobbed by myself. Tragic).

The day started off perfectly. We’d had our engagement party the day before, and I was still flying high on the joyful emotion of that day. I was so excited I woke up at 5.30 that morning. I’d made an appointment at one store, and found another that was open on a Sunday, who hadn’t emailed me back, but I assumed was fine. When it was a more humane hour, I picked up my friend to go meet my maid of honour for breakfast and for a debrief, full of excitement and wedding discussion and life planning. It hit 10 and we left to collect my mum, and it was a real girls adventure to the first store (the one with no booking). I was starting to feel a bit nervous, but we had discussed at length the pros and cons of various styles and it all seemed okay.

We arrived, and the store assistant, sitting there doing nothing, informed me that they had a free slot at 12.30 to try dresses on. Since the only appointment I had for the day was at 12.30, that didn’t quite work for us, so we just browsed. Everything was overwhelmingly wrong: tacky material, weird necklines, no train, weird lace. I felt my hopes start to drop, and thankfully we bailed quickly and got ourselves juices and discussed options for an hour until our next appointment. When we walked into the store, I felt myself give up. The store was full of the worst of the worst in wedding gowns. Everything screamed horrible. I felt like I was having a very bridezilla nightmare where I could not bring myself out of the funk of hating every single thing I hung on my poor body (which was suffering a lot of hatred at the time). I stood on that little wooden block, surrounded by mirrors, and wanted to cry. There was definitely no say yes to the dress moments, and I was dying to get home and put the whole experience out of my head.

The world of weddings is dictated by insanely highly expectations thanks to Pinterest, the millions of wedding blogs, and the social expectation of a perfect, slim, calm bride walking down the aisle having effortlessly pulled together a chic look with the trust fund with limitless zeros that funds every brand name candle making up the complex table settings. This first dress experience sent me crashing back to earth again – realising that in fact, weddings happen in the real world. They happen to women with real bodies, and real jobs, real fiances and families, real budgets and real life emotions.

Since that first occasion, I did go on another search – and had one of those magical moments where tears prick the back of your eyes when you stand in the gown. It was so special, and a moment I’ve looked back on through weeks when work sucked and I panicked about the photographer selection. But the dress is one of millions of decisions you make in planning your wedding, and planning your life, and I’ve learned it’s important to constantly remind yourself to go easy on your dreams and hopes and expectations. Just getting to waltz in to a dress store, with your most special family or friends in tow, to mess around with what you’ll wear to celebrate your marriage, is special. The dress..well…if you can guarantee one thing in life, you can be certain that your dress will be out of fashion in a few years anyway.

Frequent Flying and Points Collecting: The Qantas Obsession

Thanks to the previously-mentioned long distance boyfriend (now fiance!), I spent many uni holidays ferrying myself across the world, hopping from Perth-Sydney-LA-Detroit-Ann Arbor-Petoskey-Detroit-New York-Dubai-Perth (amongst other flight variations). Unfortunately, there is just no quick way to get yourself from very remote Perth to very remote Petoskey. I don’t regret a single flight I took (and there were many), but what I do regret is taking until now to start to care about collecting frequent flyer points. I think how much cash I could have saved myself if I capitalised on those points… but that’s neither here nor there. What’s important is now I have developed an absolute obsession with collecting rewards for spending money (on things I am already buying), and particularly how to maximise those rewards to my benefit.

The obsession was triggered after a weekend-er to Melbourne last year, where I remembered to enter my Velocity frequent flyer number. I had also finally remembered to use it on a code-share flight I took when we did an epic Perth/Caribbean/Florida/Washington DC/Trinidad vacation. I checked my letterbox and Velocity had kindly sent me a letter and a card saying I had been upgraded to silver status – and alongside that, I would be getting two guest passes to the Velocity frequent flyer lounge and the ability to earn bonus points per flight. Now that I felt like a special silver-class snowflake, I started to aggressively chase racking up my Velocity points (noting Velocity is the frequent flyer program linked with Virgin Australia), and am excitingly waiting for my next Virgin trip to waltz into the lounge and get a free lunch.

However, I have always maintained a Qantas frequent flyer card, and when American Express released their latest bonus offer with the American Express Ultimate card, I’ve now redirected my interest to Qantas and will secure my focus there for the next little while. For an annual fee of $450, the Amex Ultimate card was offering a potential 102,500 bonus Qantas points plus a return domestic flight between enumerated capital cities.

I agonised over whether this card was worth it. I detest annual fees at the best of times, so a very hefty $450 was very off-putting. I also read every single term and condition, which I highly recommend. This fine print exposed that the 102,500 bonus points would only come about in the following way:

  • 5,000 points on your first spend with Amex
  • 95,000 points if you spend $1,500 in the first three months
  • 2,500 upon your first Qantas spend (being a flight with a QF code, through the Qantas site)

In addition, you only enliven your right to a domestic flight after you have already made a Qantas purchase. Now armed with all those facts, I could make a much more informed decision as to whether this card was right for me.

Importantly, I never accrue debt on my credit card – it is always paid off in full at the due date. So, it is worthwhile finding a way to maximise the rewards I can get from a credit card, since the banks aren’t rubbing their hands together over the interest I’m unnecessarily paying. 

My key consideration was that we are going to be travelling quite a bit this year. I have already made two Qantas flight purchases in March, enlivening access to the domestic flight without having to make an unplanned purchase (as an unplanned purchase is not beating the system). I also had planned to visit my childhood bestie and maid of honour in Melbourne this year, meaning the domestic flight was not just for the sake of it – it really was a savings, in that I would typically spend between $550 – $700 on flights, resulting in a saving of $100 – $250 (since the annual fee of the card is $450).

Finally, there is a tiered point reward system, where you get extra points to the dollar for attending restaurants and booking Qantas flights.

So, with all of that in mind, I applied, got the card, got approved, re-directed all my direct debits and re-allocated my Paypal account’s primary card, and got excited when I saw my points balance tick to 5,000 when I made my first purchase (a $4 cup of coffee), then quickly 107,500 (since I buy everything on credit and pay it back).

With that in mind, I decided to dedicate myself solely to building up my Qantas frequent flyer point balance. I found accounts at Bankwest that allow me to earn Qantas points on a Mastercard and a debit account, so I continued my new-card rampage and signed up for those too. I now know that every cent I spend will be building up to the same unified goal.

And I can confidently say that I have gotten back the value of my annual fee in spades. I have booked a return flight from Perth to Petoskey, composed of the following legs: Perth to Sydney, Sydney to Dallas, Dallas to Chicago, Chicago to Traverse City and then a 90 minute drive home; then Traverse City to Dallas, Dallas to Sydney, Sydney to Perth. All up it is around 30 hours of travel and it is some hard work. First thing is to buy yourself a good set of noise-cancelling headphones (more on that in a future post). Second thing is to cash those points in. 

Using my Qantas points, I’ve upgraded my domestic flights (Perth/Sydney and Sydney/Perth) to business class, giving me priority boarding, priority check in, priority security and lounge access- as well as fancy service and champagne on arrival for the approximate 5 hours in the air. This will be invaluable when I’m kicking around Sydney airport for five hours waiting for my flight back to Perth. 

Cost if I were to have booked this flight with dollars: $4484.

Points: 50,000

Screenshot of search of the Qantas website for the flights on the same dates I am flying is below to back up what appears to be an outrageous claim:

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to upgrade my international flight, but I got the next best thing: a guaranteed exit row seat for my Sydney/Dallas long hauls. I’ve only managed to score myself an exit row without paying once, and it makes an enormous amount of difference to the enjoyability of a 16 hour flight. You don’t need to climb over or be climbed over at various intervals, you don’t have someone lower their chair back while you’re eating, you can stretch your legs out obnoxiously in front of you. You are also conveniently located to bathrooms so you can pick the best times to freshen up. Typically selecting an exit row costs you $180 each way for international flights. 

Cost if I were to have paid for the exit rows: $360

Total points: 45,000

So, I paid $1746 for a return flight to Perth to Traverse City, Michigan, USA on super saver fare. I also used 95,000 Qantas Frequent Flyer points. 

Total dollar value of points used: $4844

Total spent to get card: $450 (annual fee)

Total dollar gainz: $4394

So if that isn’t some proof that the time spent investigating and selecting a credit card with bonus points is worth it, then I don’t know what is.

There are billions of points programs and of course there are many ways to earn frequent flyer points. For Qantas, there’s online shopping through the Qantas store portal, there’s credit cards (like the bundle I have), there’s the Woolworths loyalty scheme, there’s the online booking of selected restaurants which gives you 100 points per person booked to dine, there’s bonus points for particular health insurance funds – and of course, there’s flying on a Qantas or Qantas partner airline. And this is far from a comprehensive list. Of course, you are trading valuable information about yourself, so if you’re concerned about privacy and big data … you know, have a think. But if, like me, you’re unfussed, well, go for your life. It isn’t a huge amount of work for the pay off. Just assess what you want to collect your points for: a flight, an upgrade, something in a particular store (remembering this is the worst or lowest value trade you can make for your points, but if you aren’t planning a trip but need a KitchenAid, well… consider your personal needs). Definitely checkout http://www.pointshacker.com.au for inspiration and advice, as well as recent deals and specials. And happy business class travels!


Skin Overhaul Part III

If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know that in December of 2016, I embarked on a skincare journey, led by my dear high school friend whose skincare knowledge knows no bounds. I shared part one, which involved my first collection of carefully curated skincare products and not ad hoc Priceline purchases, and part two, where we introduced SPF and acid exfoliation.

Things had been cruising along nicely, until I received my next skincare update from the Wedding Skincare Consultant. I was informed I’d been taken as far as one can go on the affordable skincare options – the next step was going to involve shelling out some serious coin. But as we had discussed, the amount you’re willing to spend on a piece of clothing should reflect the amount you’re willing to invest in your face. And I am known to spend an embarrassing amount on a piece of clothing. So there you have it. The foray into the expenny world of skin care began.

Stage Seven: Retinols

This is where skincare became seriously technical. Retinol is the technical term for Vitamin A. It is an extremely effective ingredient for skin transformation – reducing pores, minimising wrinkles, reducing acne scarring and basically turning you into Heidi Klum. It is available in prescription form as retinoic acid (the pure form of the ingredient), or non-prescription (being the retinol, which breaks down into retinoic acid). As I couldn’t be bothered going to a doctor for a prescription, and also the prescription form is significantly stronger, I kicked things off with an off-the-shelf retinol product – the Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil. As it goes for a cool $154AUD at Mecca, I began by purchasing the Power Couple duo for a more palatable $114AUD, which includes the Good Genes acid exfoliator, complimenting the skin hero process.


First thing – how pretty are those bottles?

Now, serious and second thing. This product is considered an excellent introduction to retinols, as it is a relatively low dose, and also incorporates a face oil into my regime, which is more appropriate to use at night than moisturiser. I’ll have to get back to you on why…since I have no idea. But as always, I trust in my WSC, and I put my sleeping night oil to use for the first time last night.

As a result of incorporating these new products, my nightly routine underwent a shake up, and I am now incorporating using Luna and Good Genes, and taking two weeks off the previous acid pads while my skin adjusts. This has been particularly necessary because for no perceptible reason whatsoever, the entire left side of my face had an epic break out (particularly annoying because usually my pimples prefer the right side of my face so now I”m just a well-balanced acne extravaganza). So we’re allowing my skin to slowly adjust to this new reality over the next fortnight, before upping the ante with these new products.

Once we’ve adjusted to the gentler Luna retinol, I’ll be acquiring one of the prescription retinols. I’ll keep you posted.

Step Eight: Spot Treatment

While celebrating my WSC’s birthday, we ended the night with a face-care regime for me (I know, selfish). In the course of a magical pampering session, the Aesop Control gel was applied to my numerous breakouts, and worked wonders in drying them out and minimising their eruptive presence. While handing over my whole pay check for my retinols, I also hit up Aesop and purchased this little wonder ($23AUD at the Perth CBD store), and have been spot applying each time I’m randomly in the bathroom to reduce the breakout party.


This is a convenient and affordable addition to the skincare arsenal, and I’ve been really happy with it. It is particularly great because it is clear, so I keep it in my handbag at work and reapply at sporadic intervals when I can’t possibly focus for another second.

So here’s to the next fortnight of retinols and upping the ante with the acid exfoliation. I should emphasise that after using retinols or acids, you should always use an SPF the next day – but of course, like me, you’re now in the habit of applying a strong SPF to your face every day before foundation, so that is of no particular concern.

I also wanted to emphasise that despite my very many mentions of the break out situation, my skin has become so much more hydrated and clear with each week of consistently smooshing these products onto my face. I had so many fine lines on my forehead and around my eyes, and thought that must be what happens at 26 – you become a wrinkly old prune and you can’t do anything about it. However, so much of that was purely reversible dehydration and irritation, and I’m so grateful I didn’t sign myself over to giving up and tapping out.

Of course, like any new area of knowledge, delving into skincare is complicated and there is more information out there than a normal person would know what to do with. All I can say is start slow – copy exactly what I have done if you like, and just go month by month in introducing new products. It is a surprisingly rewarding journey, and I also think is a really great chance to practice some productive self-care that will have long-term beneficial effects.


A new goal – the 365 Journal

If you’ve been reading this blog a while, you may know I am a little goal-orientated. Properly expressed, I am goal-obsessed. I love goals. The more the better. Big goals, like moving across the world, and being an entrepreneur. Small goals like sticking to my skin care regime or making my bed every day. I turn basically every small part of life into a goal.

I also am obsessed with stationery. I love it more than life itself. I was recently informed by my fiance that we have too much paper in the house. So, when Kikki.K sent me a 30% off voucher last year, to thank me for being an overly spendy customer, I knew exactly what I’d be applying it to. In amongst every single gold desk accessory, I also got myself a 365 Journal. I’ve talked about it a little – my beautiful 2017 cover page was the start of a committed journalling practice.


I’d been gifted one of these the year I went on exchange to Michigan – I was careful about recording something about each of my days. I do love to collect paraphernalia, and I filled that little book with notes, and pictures and Starbucks cup holders, and it is a really lovely testament to that year. And I knew that 2017 was going to be pretty epic in a lot of ways – lawyering, planning a wedding, planning for visas and moving and living in a new apartment, and pushing ourselves to try new and hard things, and I wanted to record it. I also wanted to use up the vast array of stickers and paper paraphernalia I’d collected over the last two years, and I do much prefer journalling when I make the pages pretty.

So I’ve been sticking to this goal – I journal almost every night, and if I forgot, I make a conscious effort to catch up on the missing days. It’s amazing what you can fit onto one page – and how, when you do journal every day, all the small but magical things that build up your day and life that are so quickly forgotten by the next week. I’m committed to recording these little memories now. The most important thing for me has been recording things, with stickers and my own hand-writing, and not doing it for instagram or facebook. Not trying to capture things for the sake of sharing it, but capturing memories for me. I also just journal whatever comes to mind. I’ve written before about following the 5-minute journal process, and I still think that is amazing and beneficial for growth and building the habit of writing. But I extra love writing about the little pieces that make up my life. I know that I am the star of a movie that only I am watching – but I learn a lot about who I am and why I do things by writing about them at the end of the day. I am proud I’ve stuck to this little goal of mine for almost two months now – and I really look forward to thumbing through my 2017 365 journal in the years to come. And hopefully, my 2018, 2019, 2020 versions…



Unboxing: Erin Condren Wedding Planner

Is it bad that I knew what wedding planner I wanted months (and months and months) before my darling fiancé popped the question? If so, whatever, I don’t care, because I have had my heart set on the Erin Condren Wedding Planner, and I’m so thrilled I have one in my hands!

Thankfully having overly high expectations did not ruin the eventual arrival of the planner; it is absolutely wonderful and makes the (surprisingly stressful) planning process a lot more fun. I also think it’ll make a really cute keepsake at the end of all of this.

In classic Erin Condren style, the planner came in an absolutely gorgeous box. Annoyingly it arrived on a day I wasn’t at home, so I had to wait an agonizing 24 hours (yep, drama queen) until it was re-routed to work.


Everything about this is just too much. I love the thought and care that goes into some decent wrapping, especially when you’ve forked out the big bucks for a luxury product.

As with all Erin Condren planners, you can customize the cover. I had picked out the fireworks style for a while – I wanted something sparkly and fun, but not too girly (so no flowers). Of course you can purchase any other cover any time, but I’m happy to stick with this one, especially since we’re planning for our wedding to take place on 30 December, right around New Years 🙂

The inserts are great – the cover page made me extremely excited. There is a tab for each month of the year (which, luckily for me, was calendar year – but you can pick the starting month and whether you need 12 or 24 months).

And then for the serious stuff – places for lists!! The tips and suggested schedules are really helpful, since there are more moving parts than you’d even think with a wedding, and it was a great trigger to remember to do certain things, or at least write down they’re needed for later.

 And it wouldn’t be an Erin Condren without a tonne of stickers to come with it! There was a promotion on where you got three sets of stickers with your planner, plus it came with customised wedding related stickers at the back.

So planning my wedding has been so much more sticker-filled fun than I even thought! While this planner does set you back a pretty penny, I do think it will make a really fun memento of the process. I’ve filled pages with collages of images I liked from bridal magazines (like a real-life Pinterest!) and collected together the various paper paraphernalia from bridal expos so that it’s all in the one place. I brainstormed venues and thank you cards, and tracked our engagement gifts. And I even filled out the budget section, and started tracking the money out (although I’ll be setting up a proper and comprehensive spreadsheet to that effect – numbers move and change, and you need all the help you can get to avoid a wedding blow out).

This wedding planner has been a source of so much fun to me – and I’m so happy I went for it! I’m excited to keep filling it up with ideas and inspiration 🙂