Cassiefairy – My Thrifty Life

Cassiefairy's thrifty lifestyle blog – Saving money every day with DIY crafts, sewing projets, low-cost recipes & shppping tips


The ergonomics of working from home

If you’re a full-time freelancer like me, or someone who works just one day a week out of their home office, this is the blog post for you. That’s because I’m sharing some research I’ve done about the ergonomics of setting up a home workspace and I’m sure that it’ll help you enjoy working from home even more than you already do!

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If you’ve been making do with sitting at the kitchen table to do your work, or balancing your laptop on the arm of the sofa, or (like us bloggers occasionally admit) never even leave your bed, you won’t need me to tell you that it’s not the best way to work. You’ll ready know it yourself thanks to the numb bum, crick-in-the-neck and sore back you get at the end of the working day.

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Why don’t you have problems like this when you’re working at the office? Because most businesses have ergonomically designed desks and chairs, perfectly set up desks and monitors at just the right height. They need to provide a healthy working environment for their workers, and don’t want to have staff absences because a dodgy office chair caused spine problems for their employees.

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So the solution to having a more comfortable working environment at home is to replicate ‘the office’. I know it might seem dull (and you’ve only just got away from that bloomin’ office!) but you’re going to have to set up a proper desk, get a great office chair and stop working on that laptop. This guide below explains the best way to arrange your desk to make it ergonomically correct. And, most importantly, you’re going to have actually USE your newly arranged desk to do your work. No matter how tempting the sofa looks!

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Students – Tips for improving your essay writing

We’re only one month into the new year and I bet that you college students out there will already have a stack of assignments to catch up on. I remember that my university tutors all used to set their essays, reports and presentations within the first couple of weeks of term, so by now I would already be worrying about writing them. Would my research be strong enough and would my writing skills be good enough to get the debate across? After a lot of practice and many many years of being a student I finally worked out how to breeze through essays and assignments, so if you’re feeling concerned don’t worry – there are plenty of ways of improving your grammar, choice of words, structure, etc and here’s how:

Quick tips to improve your writing skills

All students have problems with  written assignments from time to time as they demand thorough research and take lots of time to pull together into a structure that reaches a decisive conclusion. But all that work isn’t in vain – developing your writing skills in this way is useful when you’re studying at a higher level in the future or even in your future job. Here are some tips that will make your life much easier:

  • Make sure that every paragraph has main idea
  • Pay attention to sentence length: short ones are used to emphasize ideas and longer sentences are used to explain, define, or illustrate
  • Key words and ideas should be placed at the beginning or end of the sentence
  • Use different types of sentences: simple, compound, and complex sentences
  • Dynamic verbs in active voice are important – don’t overuse the passive voice
  • Avoid using too many unnecessary words
  • When you’re reviewing your essay, read it aloud –  you will hear any grammar problems
  • Don’t be too lazy to proofread and edit your work before submitting it
  • Don’t be embarrassed to use a dictionary or synonyms 

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Top 3 money-saving tips for teens

As a teenager, saving – and sometimes, making – money can often be a struggle. For many teens who are still in school, employment is out of the question, whilst others who attend sixth form college may not be able to work as much as they would like to, due to revision for exams and a huge amount of coursework. Whilst education should always come before earning money as a teen, admittedly it can be difficult to do things such as socialise with friends or buy yourself new items of clothing when you’re living off pennies for most of the month. That’s why I’ve thought back to my teenage years and have put together my best tips for saving and making money when you’re a teenager. budgeting money saving finance tips for university freshers students_Driving Lessons

If you are sixteen or seventeen, you might be hoping to go in for your driving test soon and get your driving license. But, learning to drive doesn’t come cheap – on top of the hefty cost of actually taking a driving test these days, don’t forget that you’ll also have to pay for lessons, the theory test, and learning materials to help you pass first time. Oh, and the provisional driving license itself! I’m sorry to say that the costs do mount up but if you’re well-trained and fully prepared you’ll pass your test first time and save money on the re-test fees at least! When it comes to practicing for the driving theory test, don’t waste your money on paid CDs and books – there are numerous free practice materials available online, including apps and dedicated websites. You can also save money on your lessons by booking an instructor who offers a student discount if you are still in education. budgeting money saving finance tips for university freshers students_-3Packed Lunches

If you pay for your lunch at school or college, taking in a packed lunch instead can be a much cheaper alternative that can free up a bit of spending money for you in the week. Check with your parents first, and use foods from the family cupboards to make yourself tasty lunchtime meals each day rather than spending a few pounds per day on canteen dishes. This might not seem like a huge saving, but it definitely adds up over time. Let’s say, for example, that you spend £5 each day on your lunch at school or college – by taking in a packed lunch instead, you’ll save £25 a week. And parents should take heed of this tip; they too could save money on their lunch at work by taking a packed lunch too!budgeting money saving finance tips for university freshers students_-2Sell Your Things

If you have any clothes that you have grown out of or items such as old toys, games and gadgets that you never use anymore, selling them is a great way to earn yourself some extra money. Although it’s best to check with your parents first – especially if they bought the item – listing anything that you no longer need on auction sites or other selling sites such as Gumtree can be a great way to earn yourself some extra spending money. Of course, you have to be over 18 years old to be a member of Ebay so perhaps work ‘in collaboration’ with your parents or older siblings and ask them to help you – for a cut of the profits, of course! Remember, though, it’s important to be reliable – nobody wants to buy something online for it to never turn up, or turn up weeks late, so be prepared to go to the post office every Saturday with your parcels. Great examples of things that you could sell online include nearly-new clothes, good condition shoes, unwanted (but brand new!) Christmas and birthday gifts, old gadgets (remove all your documents and photos first), and even textbooks after exam season.

Are you a teenager? How do you manage to have enough spending money to do the things that you want each month? Whether you have a part-time job, ask your parents, or are simply very thrifty, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below so please do get in touch and let me know your own money-saving tips.


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My money-saving tips for students

It wasn’t too long ago that I was starting university. I packed up a car with all my worldly goods and moved myself to the other side of the country to start a new life 5 hours away from home. I remember those first few weeks when all I worried about was whether I could squeeze in drinks in the students’ union with my flatmates and a ‘skool disco’ party with my coursemates on the same night. And yes, I did manage it, in case you were wondering!budgeting money saving finance tips for university freshers students_One thing I didn’t manage all that well was my finances. I juggled my student loan with my part-time wages to make ends meet, and often ended up limping through to the end of term. The first year was a bit of a struggle as I came to terms with paying my own bills and budgeting to make my money last all year – but don’t worry Freshers – it all worked out fine in the end! So today I’m sharing my top tips for saving money as a student so that you can learn from my experiences. Hopefully this will leave you with more cash for nights out and important purchases (shoes or textbooks? What a dilemma!) and help your time at university go smoothly.budgeting money saving finance tips for university freshers students_-2Budget before your student loan arrives. Honestly, if you don’t work out how much you have available to spend per week to make your student loan last until the end of term, you will end up hungry in December! It might seem like a huge amount of money in your bank account at the start of term but it soon disappears if you’re not careful! I know it’s dull, but you just need to add up your bills (accommodation, mobile phone, TV license, broadband etc), subtract this from your loan payment and divide the rest between the number of weeks in the semester. This is the amount you can spend on food, clothing, course materials and nights out so try to stick to it. If it doesn’t look like it’s going to be enough then… Continue reading “My money-saving tips for students” »

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Dream a little dream… Squeeze in some study space

Great news – I’ve finished making those cushion covers! I know I’m a week later than I promised but they are all done AND I’ve made a start on a quilted throw with the fabric I had leftover. That might take a while to finish but I’m not worried, at least I’ve sat at my sewing machine and have done some making, phew. The procrastination I was feeling was similar to when I was a student at university and I knew I had a big assignment to write, but turning on the computer itself was difficult enough, and that blank page of a text document was particularly difficult to conquer. In this instance, it was the sewing machine that was hard to turn on, and the fabric was staring back at me like a blank page. Like writers block, but sewing block, I guess – although I knew what I wanted to make and had all the supplies I needed, so there was really no excuse for not just cracking on with it. Still, at least this got me thinking about a student-esque study space, and I started to wonder whether the alcove beside my fireplace wall could be a possible spot for a neat and tidy desk area.

bedroom makeover small cast iron feature fireplace

It would allow me to keep all of my office bits in one place until I finish my caravan workshop (another project that has stalled during the winter!) and it would keep paperwork out of the living room where is currently stacking up. I’m sure I’m not the only one who needs to sort out a dedicated study space, and with students returning to university this week for the start of a new semester I thought that now would be a good time to research what space-saving dorm stuff there is out there.

dream a little dream concealed wardrobe desk

Desk ideas via Pinterest

I started my search on Pinterest and came up with some fantastic space-saving ideas. The first option I found was fitting shelves and desk space into the alcove, which would really make the most of the space – at the moment there are just some drawers in the alcove and all of the space above it is wasted. So perhaps some floating shelves would give me some more storage space where I could use baskets or boxes to store my bits and pieces neatly. However, while browsing Pinterest, my eye landed on a genius idea – I particularly like this concealed workspace within a wardrobe. So my bedroom would continue to look like a bedroom with  pair of wardrobes, but one of these would house my desk, all my computer stuff and paperwork – excellent!

dream a little dream brocade desk accessories ocm

So all I need is a wardrobe and I can get started! The next step is desk storage solutions such as files, letter racks, boxes etc to keep everything tidy within the concealed desk space – there’s no point in having a custom-made storage solution if I’m just going to stuff all my mess into it haphazardly. I’d heard about a website which specialises in dorm stuff for students so I had a browse of their desk solutions and came up with these laser-cut storage options from OCM above. They will look great in my bedroom, tie in with the existing decor and keep all my paperwork tidy.

dream a little dream funny bedroom cushions  from ocm

I also ‘accidentally’ had a look at their bedding section and found these funny cushions – all of which would look great with my colour scheme and would have saved me a lot of time instead of making my own cushion covers. I know, I know, my handmade cushion covers are the matching fabric for my blinds and they tie the whole room together but these cushions are so cool and are the right kind of colours too. Maybe I’ll add one of them to my bed anyway – but which one??


Some wise old advice for new students

Well it’s officially the summer holidays now and students up and down the country are waiting for their exam results. Whether they have just completed their A-Levels, college course or first year at university, they will undoubtedly be jittery about what the results-slip says, because it’ll confirm the path that their life will take over the coming years. I remember getting my exam results all those years ago and realising that they meant I had definitely got my place at university and could start planning for the big move. My little sister is expecting her results this summer (good luck sis, I know you’ll do great!) and this too will dictate what course she will be studying and where she will be living for the foreseeable future. With that in mind, I wanted to give students some of my tips for making the next move to college or university and hopefully make things a little easier!

Exam results – If you don’t get the results that you want, it really is not the end of the world, believe me! Although your life plan might have made a quick change of direction, this gives you a chance to re-evaluate what you want to do and where you want to live – maybe take a year out, maybe work for a year to save some cash or there are 100s places available on other university and college courses that are available through the UCAS “clearing” service. So your exam results are only the start of a new adventure!

Starting your course – This is your chance to make a good first impression, not only on your tutors (don’t forget they’ll be marking your work, so be nice!), but also your fellow students. So even though you might not know anyone yet, walk into your first class with your head held high and smile. Sit next to someone rather than sitting on your own and introduce yourself (My fabulous friend Jenna caught my eye on the first day by using a pen with a massive flower on the top and that was a good ice-breaker!). You know that you’ve already got something in common with these people (you’re studying on the same course, after all!) so chat about your shared interest in the subject and you’re well on your way to creating a new group of partners in crime.


Where to live – If your university or college offers halls of residence accommodation, it’s a good idea to live there with your fellow students if you can. This will give you the chance to socialise with a different group of students other than those on your course, and you’ll all be able to keep an eye out for each other. Don’t just sit in your room though – make the effort to hang-out in the kitchen or common room, and chat to other students! You never know, but these same people you meet in halls could be attending your 10th wedding anniversary in many years’ time (I’m talking about you, Suzanne!). Another option is getting a shared house rental, and this is especially popular with second-year students who already have a group of friends that they want to live with. A good place to look for rentals is through the university itself, or Rentify advertises its properties on Zoopla, so you can easily find the right location with the right number of bedrooms for you and all your pals.

Family life – If you’re living away from home try to stay avoid going back home in the first month or two of university. A lot of homesickness can be overcome simply by getting on with your course and new social life, and just put your family and life back home out of your mind. If you head home too soon, you may give in to the homesickness and never go back to college! Just stick with it and think about how nice it’ll be when you’re reunited with your family during reading week!

I hope that my tips will give you a good start when you head to university or college and you can look forward to getting your exam results in the next couple of weeks, knowing that it’ll be the start of something fun, whatever you choose to do!


University Freshers – some advice from a graduate!

If you’re packing for university this week here’s my words of wisdom (!) of moving away to uni –

  • I reckon you’ll think “oh I wish I’d brought that with me” on more than one occasion but its true that space is tight in Halls – You usually only get a TINY wardrobe (smaller than you’ve ever seen before) so I think when you’re packing for uni, less is more! And trust me, you’ll definitely be adding to your wardrobe over the year, so leave behind anything you’re not sure about! (if you didn’t wear it much at home, you’re probably not going to wear it at uni either!back to school shoes for autumn winter 2014
  • You’ll definitely need fancy dress stuff – When I finished my degree I left with a whole hamper of fancy dress bits! I always try to make up my own costumes to save money so I used tutus, tops and accessories to create tons of cheap but different looks throughout the year. I’ve known friends to spend 40 quid per fancy dress costume, so if everyone has a fancy-dress themed birthday, that’s a lot of cash! Try looking on Ebay for bargain fancy dress bits to create unique costumes that stretch your student loan that little bit further!back to school busby fizz shoes from clarks
  • Shoes are a category that you can compromise on, as you’ll probably live in boots in the winter & sandals in the summer. Plus you’ll need some trainers for joining in with uni sports clubs and a pair of heels for nights out (which will no doubt get ruined, and replaced many times over from Primark during the year!)back to school shoes trend for autumn winter
  • Many shops (such as Wilkinsons, Tesco and Unisak) are offering an “off to uni” package including everything you’ll need – such as duvet, towel, pans, plates, utensils, calculator and most essentially a tin opener and loo-roll! It’s a good idea to get a kit together similar to this  to ensure you’ve got the essentials for living away from home. Although, I’ll say it again, space is tight and you’ll have flatmates who also have a tin-opener each, who will probably share with you!


Good luck, study hard and enjoy freshers week! x

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