The empty wallet

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Money may be too tight to mention, but there deals to be had if you know where to look for them. In the first of a series, SIMON TERNEYfind ways to live well with less cash

THE EMPTY WALLET is a new, weekly column, dedicated to finding the most exciting, fun and free activities, products and services available across Ireland. Compared to the Celtic Tiger years (or as Enda says, the “people went mad” years), Irish wallets are emptier than they used to be. Mine is harbouring an old five punt note in the event of a euro crash. An empty wallet forces us to be creative with what we do and the way we acquire new products. By “creative”, we don’t mean stealing. Yet.

What we do mean is that a new culture of resourcefulness has emerged. This column will engage with this and be your guide to all things free – no more fear of breaking the bank. Don’t touch the bank. In fact, forget about the bank. Walk out the door with The Empty Wallet in your hand and grab some freebies.

To contribute your ideas and suggestions, email emptywallet@irishtimes.com

Hair and beauty

AS THE WORD “recession” applies not only to the economy but also to my hairline, you may think, what does this guy know about hair? Or what does this geezer know about beauty? You may be right, but I know where I could get the best free stuff if I did have those things. While hair and beauty appear to involve pretty hefty prices, scratch the surface and there’s plenty of “empty wallet” solutions. Be specific in what you’re looking for and flexible with your time. Plan ahead, take note of the ideas below and toss your empty wallet in the bottom of your handbag (or manbag).

Hair

Some people don’t like to take a risk with hair. Fine. But come on guys, it’s free. If you’re savvy, take advantage of the training schemes in several barbers. Pop down to Herman’s Klip Joint (81 Grafton St, Dublin 2) between 10am and 3pm, Monday to Thursday, for a free gents’ haircut. Most places offer gents’ cuts for €15-€30 so this is a great saving. Andy’s Hair Studio (74 Prospect Hill, Galway) offers your kid’s first haircut for gratis. A costless way to celebrate that milestone. The trouble with ladies’ hair is that it usually involves alot more cost so it’s rare to find a free deal. One nil to the guys on that front I’m afraid.

Makeovers

I’ve never had a makeover because I’ve seen it in films and I can’t stand cucumber. Makeovers can be expensive – but fret not. House of Fraser (Dundrum Town Centre) is running a free make-up lesson with Hannah Martin from Bobbi Brown on March 16th. To book, call 01-2991400. If you are interested in a natural approach, pop down to Brown Thomas (Cork, Galway, Dublin) for a free bareMinerals make under. To mark Clarins’ new spring collection, book an appointment for a free makeover in Boots, Dundrum Town Centre by calling 01-2963275. If you want to experiment with your face at home have a gander at iti.ms/yltoXLfor an online transformation. Upload your photo and you can choose from an endless plethora of options to change your look.

Beauty products

Finding free cosmetic samples is a nightmare. The internet is teeming with “free” offers which in fact require endless surveys to be completed. By the time you’ve finished you will have aged so much that the 25ml sample of anti-aging cream will be insufficient. The best I have found is ie.wowfreebies.com. This month you can bag a bottle of Prai 24K Golden Caviar Age Defying Concentrate (what a mouthful) or a free Forever Youth Liberator serum sample. Beauty website beaut.ie. has a great section called ‘Swap Siopa’ where you can exchange products with other users. This service is ideal for offloading that beauty product you can’t stand but someone else might love. And vice versa.

Oddity of the Week

Smoking isn’t great for the old fitness but if the thought of quitting makes you want to staple your hand to a box of Marlboro Lights, try iquit – a free app that gradually weans you off the fags. When the alert sounds, it’s time for your next cigarette. Gradually, the interval between smoke break alerts lengthens, almost imperceptibly, until you’re ready to call yourself a former smoker. Nice idea.

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