Monday, 23 February 2009

Counting the pennies... so the pounds can take care of themselves

Well, as some of you know, I take part in the NSD (No Spend Days) challenge on MSE – usually I do it as a ‘lurker’ – ie: I have never officially signed up, as I have been testing the water to see how well I do myself...

Well, now there’s a new post dedicated to doing it in March:

How about we all take part here on Savings Now?

It has to be worth a shot – we could support eachother either on the actual MSE thread or heer on the blog, to see how far we can stretch the cash in March.

Personally, I will not purchase:

- Treats like chocolate / crisps / sweets / soft drinks during working week
- Magazines / coffees etc on weekends

I always allow myself this ‘Pocket Money’ for the month for my non-essential spending. This covers treats, going out, clothes, entertainment and those kinds of things.

My steps for the March Challenge:

- Take my ‘Pocket Money’ out in cash again on 01 March and only spend from that.
- Get 20 No Spend Days (NSD’s) for March
- Convince him indoors that what he takes out in cash is it for the month!

I normally allow myself maximum £50 per week / £200 a month to cover everything that isn't a bill.

In February I managed well and have only taken out my £100 allowance in cash at the beginning of Feb and been using that. It means that this Friday I will have a massive £100 for my savings account which is fantastic.

Here’s to hoping we can all do this together in March!

Monday, 16 February 2009

When the brain just ain't good enough

Ok, we have all had those days when we think 'well, I know I had lots to do, and I've achieved two of those things. What were the rest?'...

... Or what about the birthday that you asked your other half to remind you of, in case you forgot, and they then ended up forgetting... you see - they thought you would be your usual organised self anyway, so subconsciously they didn't *really* need to remember it!

Truth is, sometimes pen and paper is the only way to do it. However, not lots of papers, lots of envelopes, lots of post it's or lots of cork boards. For me, it used to be my Filofax but I use my own homemade diary now - and that is just that - a diary and a task list.

For other stuff we use a wall calendar for birthdays and important dates, this is essential and is easily viewable every day in the kitchen.

The Piece De Resistance? Well, it's our Home Binder. I came across this concept on a US website last year and initially dismissed it as too much of a faff. However! My interest was raised and I started to see that rather than digging out that old council tax bill to try and find outr account number, why not have all bill companies and their account number & tel on one sheet? That level of smart-thinking hit me right in the middle of my forehead. Above is the pic to prove it... one page ladies and gentlemen - right at the front of the manual!

This is the tab for the 'home' section. In here I have recipes for homemade stuff (food, cleaning, beauty lotions etc).

This example is in the Home section is about bathroom cleaning and then I jot notes on that page + the back of the page all to do with the bathroom cleaning.

Finally, I have the reading section - here I will eventually jot notes for books I'd like to read. However, I also have an Amazon Wishlist, so I tend to use the two methods. Right now mainly I use scrap bits of paper for notes on books I want to read, which I'd like to transfer to this manual. it reminds me I must check my Amazon Wishlist to see it's up to date!

There you have it - it's an idea that may work for some and not for others. However for us it works fine as my other half knows exactly where to look for what and as it takes far less time, it's less of a 'chore'. However, for stuff I need to urgently be aware of, we still use the wall calendar and my mobile phone reminders that beep at me...

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Loyalty Brings... a £10.00 Bonus!

Loyalty Shopper are now as of February offering ...

OFFER 1) they will give you £10.00 now if you join (above link) then click their 'Starter Bonus' section when you join (top left of their website). All you need to do in that section is sign up for two quotations with their selected partners. Once you complete two of the offers online, £10.00 will be credited to your account. You only need to apply for the quotes - you do not need to pay or comit to anything, to get the free £10.00. Then....

OFFER 2) IN Addition - a great £4.00 bonus to anyone who only cashes out when they reach £45. Then, if you hang on longer and only cash out when you reach £100, they will give you an amazing £10.00 bonus.

Hang On... What does that mean?

If this is all sounding too confusing... Cashback sites are websites that offer you cash for purchasing things you would normally buy anyway.

For example - you might normally buy from However, if you buy via a cashback site, you will buy the same item from John Lewis, say a £100 MP3 player, except the cashback site themselves will give you say 5% cashback into your bank account!

That means technically that you only paid £95 for something you were going to buy anyway. So in that example you get £5 in your pocket!

In 2008 I made lots of money this way - and it works amazingly well on home insurance, travel, car insurance, cd's & dvd's and almost anything you care to think of. Just remember to clear your cookies before each purchase...

Join Loyalty Shopper then sign up to some of their bonus starter offers and incentives. If you joined today you could make around £30 from sign up offers by hardly spending a penny.

LS are a very friendly site and not only are they good for cashback purchases, they are also great for FREE daily clicks, clicks that earn you cash without spending at all. Loyalty Shopper offer you around £0.35p per day for you to click these links!

Last year I made enough across the various sites in my guide to pay for Christmas, so IF you have spare time every day - use those 15 minutes to pay for food & presents!

Click here for my guide to all you need to know about cashback sites

Monday, 9 February 2009

Various Websites to help the budget

Ok, so February is cold and miserable, a great time to stay in and keep that spending to a minimum... Here are some sites I recommend to get the creative juices flowing in terms of cutting back:

Spending Diary - Use this free useful site to track your daily spending. That's the muffins, the magazines, the extra glass of wine, the chocolates and more... by the end of the month you will finally know where it all goes and can cut back!
By cutting back on buying lunches for work last year I have saved around £30 per month, or £360 per year. If someone came up to you today and offered you £360 in cash to make your own lunches at home, would you do it? How about if they offered you £104 to stop buying chocolate and therefore be healthier? Magazines would be £160 in your pocket if you read them in the library or Borders instead of buying them... not to mention greener for the planet! We will all have different ideas on what our limit would be - try to re-define yours.

Volunteer4Panels - If you are accepted, this cashback-type site enables you to accrue points which you can then turn into high street vouchers. We save these for Christmas or clothing, very handy and only takes a few minutes per week. All you need to do, is tell them each week what clothes/cd's/beauty products you have bought and you will earn at least £1.50 per week if you do this.

MoneySavingExpert - Of course, I wouldn't even have this blog if it were not for the great Martin Lewis - we've truly turned around our spending since finding this site. The forum is particularly useful and so insightful, to learn from so many generous people that share their tips and hints. I have learnt so much and we have made many changes - we now try to give back on the forums and this blog and pass it on...

Take the chance to review things and prepare for the coming year - what are you aiming for? What real goals would you like to achieve by the end of the year? What small steps can you take now, so that in a few months you are closer to them?

We have a few in mind and have been talking about the small stepping stones, an example is only going out to a meal once per month. This could be seen by some like something we could cut out, but one meal per month at around £25 (less if we use buy one get one free vouchers etc) won't break the bank and it helps us avoid take-aways etc the rest of the month. Plus it means we save gas & electric at home one night per month by not cooking, not washing up and not having the tv/computer on... we can catch up with eachother properly and have some quality time.

So in these troubled times with so much talk of recession / depression we all need to get planning now, see what sites we can all join to help save or make cash... Here's to the year ahead and us getting through it all together.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Cashback sites - make free money!

Hi everyone, here are the 3 steps to making cash from cashback sites:

STEP 1: First, join some or all of the sites I am currently recommending.
Be sure to also click the right hand menu 'Cashback sites' Section and see the latest additions and movers and shakers.

STEP 2: Once you have joined those sites, join me on the cash clicking MoneySaving Expert thread!

STEP 3: PM me via the thread for the info guide and downloadable spreadsheet.

I am happy to e-mail the guide over to you - just contact me via the clicking thread on MSE.