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Mission Competition

Top Money Saving and Comping Tips from a 20 year-old Student keen to make my limited budget stretch the semester!

Follow me on Twitter:@LaurieBeat or email any queries to lauriebeat@gmail.com

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Luck and love!

Friday, 26 August 2016

A Money Saving Student Holiday - RSPB





When you think of ways to save money, perhaps going on holiday isn't the first thing to spring to mind. But over the last two weeks, I have been on a trip away that has taught me a lot about saving money. I have stayed in a country cottage, been on outdoor walks, seen some amazing wildlife and learned more than I do in the classroom. And all I had to pay was my travel and food while I was there. What was I doing? I was volunteering with the RSPB - the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. I had an incredible two weeks, and would recommend it to anyone interested in wildlife and the great outdoors. Here are the things that I learned, from identifying Heath bumblebees to planning a food shop:

  1. Travel

The main expense of my whole trip was the travel. I knew months in advance where and when I would be going, and so booked my trip 3 months previous to my departure. When I compared the price of what I paid for my return journey to what I would have paid the week of travel I saved £71. That's almost 80%! Here are the ways I saved the money:

  • the most money saving time to book a train ticket is 12 weeks before you leave, although this can be difficult if it is a last minute trip. However, you hear back about the residential volunteering with plenty of time to spare so this is not a problem. 
  • I always use thetrainline.com to book my tickets. I love this site as it is clear, easy to use and has some great savings. However, I don't just use one site, I access this through topcashback.co.uk, a cash back site, to make sure that I save even more money on my purchase
  • If you are going on a long journey (mine was almost 7 hours!) entertainment and food can be an issue. To buy food on the train costs a fortune, so I would suggest taking a packed lunch and plenty of snacks. If you're a tea jenny like me, a flask is also a must! Wifi is expensive on trains, so have a technology detox and read a book. Or if you need your comping fix, the latest issue of compers news!


2. Food 

I was forewarned that the place I would be staying was pretty much in the middle of no-where and that there were no shops in walking distance (I tried one day, but it took me over an hour and I had to phone a friend begging to be rescued outside a Tesco Express). I was also told that we wouldn't be able to get to the shops for a couple of days and to bring enough food to last until then. At first, I thought this would be a big hassle, but I used it as an opportunity instead. I am guilty of being the kind of person that does a few small shops rather than one big one per week. This often results in impulse purchases and buying things for dinner that night, when I have plenty of food in the cupboards (see previous post). By not having access to a shop, I would have to plan very carefully what I would be eating each night.

As well as careful planning practice, taking food with me meant that I could use up all the things in my cupboard that I had totally planned on eating, but always ended up replacing with something I knew I liked. Without the opportunity to replace these items, I would be forced out of my comfort zone and clear those cupboards. 

I completely emptied my cupboard and found a whole host of things I had forgotten even existed. Those new superfood health-craze will-make-you-superhuman cereal bars that tasted slightly funny. The tubes of seeds that I thought would be really handy for putting on cereal (but turned out to be great fuel after a day volunteering) and those instant rice packs that are for two people and so had been cruelly abandoned. Without the option of substituting these, I was forced to eat what I had, and discovered that coming out of my comfort zone really isn't a bad thing at all!

We managed to go to one supermarket while I was there, so I had to plan carefully what I needed. I couldn't buy too much as I would than have to lug it back to Scotland, but I needed enough the fuel me. It was a fine balancing act. In the end I went for lots of tinned ingredients, such as potatoes, carrots, tomatoes and soups (which often have the same nutrition of their fresh equivalents), a bag of rice and pasta each, and some meat and cheese. As well as my store-cupbaord favourite: baked beans. In the past, I have created loads of tasty meals from baked beans: check out the recipes here. By getting some store cupboard staples, and plenty that don't have quick use by dates, you can get really inventive and have some great meals without splashing out. In addition to that, the reserve was thick with brambles, so fresh berries were never a problem!




3. Fitness

One evening when I was minding my own business watching TV, I was bombarded with a fast paced advert telling me to stop relaxing on the beach on holiday and instead replace the one bit of relaxation I get a year with some ex-army guy shouting at me to do more push ups. And all this for just over £2,000 for a week. Bargain.

Instead, I went away for two weeks, got fit and actually enjoyed it. The accommodation was free, so were the tools and travel to the site each day. In fact, while I was there I only spent the £40 on food and gained so much more in experience! Each day we were out on the reserve, doing varied tasks each day so you were never bored. Path clearing, bracken bashing and butterfly surveys were just some of the tasks I was lucky enough to try. The first day, my arms ached in that great way when you know you've done some good hard work. Each evening I would come home satisfied and shattered, but at the same time feeling really rewarded. You could see the people who enjoyed walking their dogs round such a well kept green space, you heard the bird chirrup their approval of you maintaining your habitat and I knew that I was doing my part to help conserve the world we have. Beats endless laps round a muddy field any day of the week



4. The People

I have met some amazing people. One of the wardens, Dave, was such a laugh and really made my experience. From about the third day I had been landed with the nickname 'Ninja' (which became the only thing he called me, other than the shortened version - Ninj) due to my skills with a sharp blade among the bracken. He really was a fountain of knowledge and I learnt so much from him. I could abandon expensive wildlife books when he was around, because you knew he would already know the answer before you even registered that a bird had flown past.

As well as that, I was living with two other residential volunteers. This made for a great experience in the house in the evenings, learning about their lives and chatting about our similar passion for protecting the environment. To top it all off, I met a couple of Daleks when I got free entry to Weyfest 2016 to volunteer at the RSPB stand.What better holiday than that?


Find out more about getting involved with residential volunteering with the RSPB here. I sure know I'll be signing up again in future!

Luck and Love, 

Laurie

Friday, 12 August 2016

A Day in the Life of a Comper...Leanne Baird



Hello! I’m glad we share this amazing hobby, do you have a story about how you got into it?

Hi Lorna! My name is Leanne, I'm 34 and a nurse. I used to enter competitions but was never too serious - I would buy puzzles magazines on a Thursday and when I entered a take a break comp, I won a South Africa safari! It was a trip of a lifetime worth £3000, everything included all for just 96 pence!
Wow! I would ask your best prize so far, but that sounds like it!! What sort of prizes do you prefer: physical prizes or experiences? Why?
I love winning experiences like nights outs. I have won a cinema trip and a murder mystery night. However it's always cool to get a freebie: I won a fantastic hair cut and colour deal!

What do your friends and family think of this hobby? Have you managed to get any of them involved?

My friends and family are very supportive and they put in requests of what they want me to win! My five year old nephew wants Lego and my nine year old niece wants make up, so no pressure! I like it when my prizes can be used to treat friends and family. My best friend entered a Facebook competition and won a Aurora hairband, so comping can be infectious.

Haha, I often get requests for things! It's like magic to them when it suddenly appears through the letter box! What are your top 3 dream prizes?

My three dream prizes are travel related as I love holidays, so a trip to Japan, Iceland and New Orleans.

Iceland is on my list too! What is your favourite method of entering competitions?

I enter Facebook, magazines and any other competitons. I like these methods because can get a wide variety of prizes, especially with Facebook. I sometimes end up with some very random items!

Any tips for fellow compers?

  • Be pro active, if you want to win something in particular - go for it!
  • I'm a big fan of cosmic ordering/ law of attractions so sometimes I'll write or visualise an order.
  • If you are doing postal comps decorate envelopes with stickers, 3 packs for a £1 from the works and jazzy/coloured envelopes.
  • I recommend subscribing to the compers news
  • You have just got to be in it to win it!
There was a famous comper called Helen Haskell and she won every competition she won she used this process called SPEC
  • Select it - select your prize
  • Project It - put it out there
  • Expect It - Expect your prize to come to you
  • Collect it - Imagine collecting it

Any final comments about this brilliant hobby?
It's just good fun and I love when I win random stuff like bottles of tequila and bags of popcorn, I wish everybody all the luck in the world!


Thanks so much Leanne, I loved your tips - SPEC will stick in my mind! If you enjoyed this and want to get involved yourself, send me a message! Email is lauriebeat@gmail.com, and find me on Twitter @LaurieBeat or Instagram @lornab22

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Win on Instagram



After starting to do my Prize Unboxing Videos (Here are June and July's), I realised that there is one method of entry I have had a fair bit of success with (touch wood) - Instagram.  A few of you delightful readers have asked me how I find these competitions, and how I ultimately win. Well here you go you lovely lot, my top 5 tips for comping on Instagram!

As this is more about Instagram tips than a tutorial on how to use Instagram, I would recommend checking out Di Coke's blog here if you are new to the app.

1) Use the Hashtags


Unlike Twitter, you can't search for more than one term on Instagram. This makes it really hard to find competitions, as you cannot look for specific competitions. After trying the usual #win or #competition, I soon realised this would only bring up photos of super sporty people lifting weights and #winning lots of sporting #competitions!

Time to try something else! I always, always, always enter Instagram competitions on Wednesday and Friday. Why? Because the unique hashtags #winitwednesday and #freebiefriday tend to only bring up competitions that us compers are interested in (not that I don't like seeing the sporty ones...). I make sure that I enter on these days as part of my comping routine.

Other hashtags to try are:

#giveaway
#WinWednesday
#freebie
#prize
#enter

Another great thing about hashtags, is that you can see the photo's that other people have entered. Some competitions only ask you to like and comment, but others will require a photo, usually along the lines of a set theme, accompanied by a hashtag. This is where making your photo's stand out really matters. Rather than the same old posing selfie, try adding in some props like a makeup moustache (as demonstrated) to keep it light-hearted. To make sure yours isn't the same as all the other entries, click the hashtag and have a look. This does NOT mean you can steal an idea or a photo as that is cheating. However, making sure your entry doesn't look the same as everyone else's and then coming up with an original idea for your photo is a-okay.



2) Get Your Profile Ready


First things first is to make your profile public. If the promoter cannot see your entry then it cannot be counted. Simple as that. Don't be shy, show your hilarious selfies to the world.

Another thing that promoter may look at is your overall profile. A bit like Twitter, if your profile picture isn't there or doesn't have you in it, it may look like a fake account, especially if all your posts are re-grams of competitions. Try to pick something funny or smiley that expresses you as a person.

Now, about those re-grams. I'm not the biggest fan of competitions that ask you to re-gram a photo (repost the photo to your own Instagram and tag the promoter with a hashtag), and tend to stick to simple like, comment or tag comps or publishing original photos. However, if you are a fan, I would suggest that, after the competition has ended and the winner has been announced, delete the re-gram. This keeps your Instagram tidy and shows promoters that you have a life outside comping (even if that isn't true. GUILTY!)

3) Snap Away


Take lots of pictures, especially when you know there is a competition around. When the Christmas Advent Competitions are in full swing, a festive photo is often required - so save these up! I have an album in my phone just for comping, and also have themed ones to make it easier to find that winning photo! Ones to look out for are Pancake Day, Mothers and Fathers Day and Summer photos.

As I said earlier, standing out from the crowd in these sorts of competitions is so important, and they are generally judged. Think of something that will get your face remembered, whether that be a silly outfit, doing something embarrassing in public or a really impressive talent! Show it off, and don't be afraid to look like a fool! You may never see those people who give you a sly glance again, and anyway, it's all worth it for a laugh and a potential win!

Similarly, when a competition asks you to comment, try and put something funny, rather than just the generic 'Looks fab, thanks'. The promoter may not look through all the comments, but if they do and yours stands out, it may well be picked.

4) Get a tag buddy or two...or three.


A popular method for entering Instagram comps is to tag someone. This spreads the word of the competition and gets more entrants. If you have comping buddies (if not I recommend Facebook groups like Lucky Learners or my Mission Competition group), ask them if they are willing to be tagged. This helps both of you find new competitions, as you may have different methods for seeking out those hidden gems. My Instagram is @lornab22 if any of you fancy adding and tagging.

One thing I would note when tagging, is be careful not to send the tag as a message to the people tagged, rather than a comment. To avoid this, I tend to put a wee comment first, even just one word or an emoji, to ensure it sends as a comment.

5) Use Forums


One of my main sources of competitions are sites such as Prize Finder and Money Saving Expert. Prize finder has a social media section, and there you can find Instagram competitions (marked with a (IG) next to them). To seek these out without scrolling, search on a laptop by pressing control F and then typing in 'IG'. This will highlight all the Instagram competitions. These sites are great, as someone else is doing all the hard work for you. Sometimes this can mean that they are higher entry, but you have just as good a chance at winning as the other compers.


So get snapping, filter those photos and upload! If you want an Instagram tagging buddy, comment below and find a friend!

Luck and Love,

Laurie