When life seems overwhelming, there’s something immensely comforting about being told what to do, whether it’s the little things – how to chill wine in a hurry or pretend to tan your back – or big things, like how to support a friend who is going through IVF or dealing with grief.
Given the stresses of life these days, Sali Hughes’ new book, Everything Is Washable and Other Life Lessons, is a welcome relief.
Inspired in style, if not tone, by her love of 1950s housewives compendiums, the comprehensive guide is divided into chapters on home, food and drink, fashion, health and lifestyle. beauty, life and finances, and friends, relationships and family. It’s full of smart tips and advice to help us navigate modern life.
“I’m a hands-on person by nature and if people are looking for some sort of publication in a friendly, helpful book, I hope I can help them,” says Hughes, an acclaimed Brighton journalist and columnist whose social media followers and friends regularly bombard her with questions.
Here is an excerpt from his life hacks that can save you money and time.
Be careful when buying second-hand clothes
‘Always buy out of season, when people are emptying their closets (a coat in the summer, vacation clothes in the fall/winter). The best way to get a wearable, high-quality designer item for a fraction of its original cost is to buy something famous made by another designer. So, instead of a Burberry or Aquascutum trench coat, look at Max Mara and APC, both of which are less sought after and cost less on second-hand resale.
“For high street clothes, rather than looking for a Topshop tea dress, look for its sister brand, Miss Selfridge. You could get it for £5 instead of £25. Get to know the websites and how you like go shopping.
‘Do you prefer to pay what the seller asks, like on Vinted and Depop, or do you like the fun of bidding, like on eBay? In an auction, bidding on an odd number – £31.26 instead of £30 – could make all the difference. I never bid before the last day, otherwise you just raise the price.
Make friends with your freezer
“You make it difficult and more expensive if you need a new recipe every time you cook a dish. Instead, learn to cook a base for things – whether it’s a soup, curry or stew – then adapt it based on what you have in the fridge.
Also, freeze as much as possible: nuts, bananas (out of their skins), chopped onions, mash, spinach, pastries, egg whites, leftover wine for cooking, peas, herbs, vegetable scraps – the list is long. It’s so much better to put them in a freezer bag than in the trash.
Clever box with beauty products
“I understand that a really luxurious texture or beautiful packaging can be part of people’s sensory pleasure, but I hate shoppers who think they have to spend a lot to get good skincare and makeup. It’s worth spending the money on foundation and perfume, but most of the time, you can get quality mascara, lipstick and eyeshadow from 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% vitamin C and an affordable serum with 15% vitamin C. Figure out what your skin needs and see what’s out there.
Make yourself comfortable at a low price
“I’m a real homebody and I’d rather be at home than anywhere else. Beautiful blankets instantly soften surfaces and transform the look of a room. My worn out sofa cost me £136 on eBay over 18 years ago and I keep changing the vintage covers. It’s the same thing with the cushions: change them every two years and you feel like you’ve redone your room.
‘Mix different types of textured wood photo frames for a neat feel. For lighting, use string lights and a soft bulb for a tummy-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 replacing a simple one with something fancier (much cheaper than buying a designer lamp).
‘There are loads of pretty shades on Etsy, Pooky and valuelights.co.uk. You can make your own from scraps of otherwise useless wallpaper or fabric – expect to pay around ten bucks for a kit with threads, cutters, etc.
Have your own bank account
‘I say this from my own experience: it is so important not to have a joint account as a single account. Things happen and people separate. If you have a joint account, make it a secondary account where you pay your bills. Don’t pay your salary there.
And talk about money…
“It’s so funny that the thing most couples argue about the most is the one thing they tend not to discuss before they get married. They’ll say if they want kids or where to live, but not if they’re a spender or a saver – or if they view the money they have as what’s in their account or what they can to borrow. Typically, people don’t change their financial outlook without a hard lesson, so talk about it early to avoid a huge amount of conflict later.
Everything is washable and other life lessons from Sali Hughes is now available
Household items: save or splurge?
Do crazy things
The mattress: You spend a third of your life sleeping so don’t skimp
Garbage bags: Cheap black trash bags are the ultimate false economy
Pillows: Look for one that hits the sweet spot between soft and firm
Sofa: It is one of the vital organs of your home and it must be correct
Towels: A few more pounds and they’ll stay soft and bouncy and absorb moisture better
To paint: Buy a sample of more expensive paint and take it to a store to be mixed
Toaster : The less it looks like a vintage Winnebago, the longer it’s likely to live
Cushions : Spend cash on the big stuff, then scatter over cheap decorative items
Kitchens: Unit carcasses are very numerous. Good faucets, counter tops and fittings give it a high end look
Sheets: More important than a high thread count is whether it fits
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