Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Bouncing into Autumn

Hi everyone,

Many apologies again for the delay, things are getting into a rhythm of sorts now so I do hope to be able to chat to you more about what i am learning and how we are coming along.

Lately we have continued to save money by using washable nappies, just terry squares with good quality outer wraps. I have also bought 'pocket' nappies on ebay quite cheaply but these do not seem to have the absorbency of good old terries - if anyone has nay tips on the best inner boosters to use I would be most grateful as the pocket nappies are certainly easier to use.

Sainsburys have a third off baby stuff, so have bought some nappy rash cream and value wipes. I do use washable wipes but the disposable ones always come in handy.

I have been batch cooking things like Cottage pie - plus today have a lasagne ready to part cook and freeze (bit naughty as it was frozen mince but there you go). Also planning to cook some macaroni cheese, naughty but nice in this cooler weather...

We bought lots of clothes for little one at a Sunday bootfair, around £0.20p per item, some of which I will be able to resell on ebay as they are branded. Every penny counts!

I am now keeping an eye on freecycle for any items that we might use over the coming few months or even in Spring. Baby activity centres, garden tools, things like that.

We also want to sell our car for something more practical now the little one is here - first we need to find a new car, so that will be our next mission as I am getting fed up of getting into the back via folding the front seat to get his baby seat in.

Also have bought my first Christmas pressie, couldn't help myself, it was a bargain on Amazon and I know hubby will love it.

How is everyone, and what are your favourite money saving tips this month?

Thursday, 1 September 2011

September update

Hi everyone,

Well our little bundle is now 7 weeks old and growing massively every day. Not to mention the changes in his personality and how much more alert he is!

I guess our money saving efforts have been slightly less, but, our focus has been on bulk cooking food, then also using washable nappies. These 2 things are the main ones I have time for right now and do save us some cash.

We buy things like mince meat, eggs, fish etc in bulk, then try to bulk out the meals. Jacket potatoes are easy, batch cooking soup then freezing it helps, plus making muffins that can be healthy snacks for example is useful. My last batch was 12 banana walnut ones, I should have made 24 though to make best use of the oven being on...

Enjoy the last rays of sunshine everyone, seems Autumn is already round the corner!

Thursday, 30 June 2011

How to save money on Summer cooking!

Hi everyone,

Well I have started maternoty leave now! So this has inspired me to have a big week of cooking next week, and I am looking for inspiration from you folk and online generally.

What can I cook now that will be easy to freeze and make for easy meals once the baby arrives next month?
Of course there are things like spaghetti bolognaise, cottage pie etc but they are not very summery... I will make some as back up meals though.

Also on my mind recently has been saving money on bills even more than normal in preparation for the year ahead.

Here is what we have done so far:

- Paid our tv licence bill in advance until September 2011
- Paid our water bill in advance until March 2012
- Fixed our gas and electric tariff onto a fixed tariff that ends in 2013

That's about as much as we can do on bills, apart from save money on usage, food, petrol etc.

So as to the cooking, here are some of the items I have come up with:

- Quiche - could be frozen in portions - not as good as fresh but still nice
- Pasta sauces - can be put into sterilised jars, or frozen, either way super quick with pasta
- Macaroni cheese - can be half cooked then frozen, then popped in the oven to finish and crisp up
- Pizzas - buy basic bases then add our ingredients on top and freeze. Super easy to chuck in the oven, plus handy to eat with one hand if needed!

So over the next few days I hope to come up with some more food ideas - generally some light items that can be quickly heated up, any suggestions you have are much appreciated!

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Money saving for Summer

Hi everyone,

Sorry for the delay, baby is busily growing and my mind has been focused elsewhere... so much to prepare for, but I think we are nearly there!

Freecycle and Ebay have both been a godsend so far, so many products that you can easily use second hand and saves so much time and money. Not to mention recycling perfectly usable goods, and then either Freecycling or Ebaying them when done.

For now we are focusing on the main things... nursery is becoming a mess but I am sure in the next couple of months we will get sorted.

Aaaanyway, my thoughts for now for everyone, are to try not to overspend on BBQ food and drinks this Summer - a bit of a challenge but post your suggestions, as bulk cooking is so much harder now!

For me to save money on food I am considering growing tomatoes and courgette only this Summer, so that we only have 2 things to focus on, and they are items we would buy anyway. Also, bulk making things like Cous Cous and potato salad etc.

What about you?

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Shabby Chic £15 TV unit and tiny steps approaching!

Hi everyone, hope April has started well for you!

Well lots has changed in our houehold over the past few months - hence the dip in my blog posts. The big news is... we are expecting the pitter patter of tiny money saving feet ;o)
That's right, so it means that money saving, money making, and home improvements are top priority on our list, even more so than before. So when energy permits, I have been undertaking various projects, to get the house ready for our little one.

I have shown below my latest project - revamping a £15 nasty orange pine tv unit.

Here is the 'Before' image:

The process I followed this this unit was to: Clean the unit with a damp cloth, you can also use sugar soap depending on how dirty it is.
  • Wipe down any sanding residue and allow to dry.Sand down the whole unit, taking care with any detailing.
  • Paint with an initial coat of primer, to tone down the colour and save on paint later.
  • Choose a good paint suitable for wood - here I have used Wimbourne White by Farrow & Ball - not cheap, but I was painting some other chairs with it (also shown on this blog) so in a way it was more money saving than buying a new tin.
  • Use a good brush that doesn't lose bristles and make sure you wash it after each coat. If you are unable to wash it and the coats dry quite quickly, wrap the brush in some wet cloth rag, so that when you come to use it again a few hours later it won't have dried out. Never leave the brush with paint on it overnight (new brushes are very expensive).
  • Paint around 3-4 coats depending on the item, you may wish to finely sand each coat before applying the next coat, and allow to dry after cleaning any sanding residue.
For this unit, I did not paint the top, instead I used Danish oil - this required around 6 hours between coats. I applied 6 coats in total. Once fully dried, you need to polish the surface with a clean, lint free cloth as it really brings out the shine. Our stairwell hand rail also got this treatment and looks great plus feels so smooth to the touch.
Once finished, I bought 2 new clear heart shaped handles from ebay to really add a finishing touch and these cost £3.50 for two plus postage. Here is the finished product:

All in all, I think this project took me around 4 hours but it saved us buying a new unit, as this one fits the spot perfectly size wise, I just didn't like the colour. I have seen similar in Laura Ashley that cost alot of money, so we are pleased with the outcome!

Do you have any makeover tiips or a blog showing some projects? Do drop me a comment so we cal all learn and share tips!

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Quidco - Be Quids in with the biggest Cashback Site

Hi everyone, 

Hope you are all well and looking forward to Spring - it's nearly here!

Just a short note to remind you of one of the biggest cashback sites out there - Quidco. This is an essential site to be a member of, offering great tracking, excellent customer service and have been going for many years so I have no hesitation in recommending them as a must-join site.

This is the first site I check for any cashback and their advertised top benefits are:
  • The UK's no.1 discount site
  • Cashback, voucher codes and printable vouchers
  • 2,000 retailers including Amazon, eBay, Tesco and Pizza Hut
  • UK exclusive - many of their vouchers also come with extra cashback
  • Over 1,000,000 members = biggest buying power
I recently used them for car insurance with the AA and earned £26, every little helps especially with car insurance constantly going up! Plus I got a free years worth of roadside assistance which was a bonus.

As always, it is best to compare various cashback sites before making your purchase, so you always get the best rates.
Plus always, always remember to clear your cookies just before you decide which cashback site to go with.

Also a chance for me to remind you of my new website focusing specifically on cashback - please visit Earn Cash 4 Clicks and keep up to date with the blog to have the latest info.

Enjoy cashbacking and check back soon for other updates!

Friday, 25 February 2011

Fantastically Filling Flapjacks - Frugal fun!

Hi everyone,

Hope you are doing well and managing to cope in these cold Winter months! once March is here and the evenings get even longer I am sure we will all feel better... There are signs of Spring in our garden so lots of hope it won't take long now.

I wanted to share with you the idea of making your own flapjacks - maybe you already do, but to me this was a new idea and I am not much of a sweet tooth, but, I wanted to get something filling and not too expensive that would stop me spending in the shops. It's great to have as a snack at work or keep in a bag when travelling, or add to kids lunchboxes.

I have tried my own variations, and this is a good basic recipe to start with:

Porridge ensures you have slow release energy. It has less butter and less sugar than other recipes I have seen. What I tend to do is reduce the sugar a little more, and add raisins for example to increase sweetness more naturally. Also no need to use heavy maple syrup, honey is just fine.
To this I also add broken walnuts and also sunflower seeds, for added crunch (plus sunflower seeds are so inexpensive and very good for you.)

A tray that's low and square is best, mine happens to be rectangular from Sainsburys to I just pad out the mix.

They only take half an hour in our fan oven, and when you remove the tray you just need to score the mix lightly where you want to cut, allow to cool, then cut and place on a wire rack if you have one.

I do other variations like:

  • grated apple and cinnamon
  • mashed banana and walnut
  • cranberry and dessicated coconut
  • chocolate chips and hazelnut

Be warned, you can freeze them however they go down so quickly you may not have time to!
Experiment and have fun!

Friday, 28 January 2011

Cashback guide now online!

Hi all,

Brr, is it cold or what? Just thought i would write a quick note to say that in cooperation with a knowledgeable web colleague, I have now uploaded the cashback guide to:


Please drop by as it's likely to have the latest changes etc, hopefully it wil hep you earn more money this year, even though the cashback sites are cutting back a little more. But there is still money to be had, particularly if you persevere with the daily clicks and also sign up to any offers that are relevant to you.

Cashback on new bank accounts, new credit cards, changing energy, broadband or tv supplier such as Sky always tend to have good cashback bonuses up to around £120 for example. Even applying for your credit rating can earn as much as £17.

As with this here blog, please support the sponsors of any articles you enjoy each time you visit, thank you and hope January has started well for you!

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Happy 2011 - here's to a money saving start!

Hi all and hope you had a lovely festive break and some wonderful pressies, without breaking the bank toooooo much!

This is  a short but sweet post to say hello and to recommend my top 10 tips for saving money straight away in 2011, so you're set for the year ahead for some inspiration - please share your tips with us here too!

1 - Make a fixed budget for shopping each month. Take cash out of the ATM if you need to - just don't go over it or buy bad tempting (expensive!) foods.
2 - Cook in bulk, and when you do, pad out the meals with red lentils for example in spag bol and chilli, or pasta shapes in soups, cous cous and things like bulgur wheat and green lentils in stews.
3 - Make a personal budget for yourself, again take cash out of the ATM each payday and make sure it lasts til the next one...
4 - Call your energy / tv / broadband cuppliers and renegotiate. Also check price comparison websites for life, car, pet, travel insurance to see what cashback you can get. See the cashback section on the right for more info, you can make hundreds of extra pounds this year. If you change energy supplier, do it via a cashback site.
5 - Reduce car travel, less petrol, less expenses and walking more helps feel that little bit better about the fact we don't go to the gym...
6 - Reduce gym costs if you do go - are you going at least 3 times a week? If not, maybe take up running, walking or exercise at home maybe by buying a 2nd hand cross trainer or step machine if you have little space.
7 - Get your other half to agree to cut back, maybe have a goal you are both aiming for, and one person controls the finances and had a good overview of what's what.
8 - Use a cashabck credit card when you can, if you have no debts. Many offer at least 1% cashback on all your purchases, which is a great bonus each year.
9 - Spend those Boots / Nectar / Tesco points you aren't using and get the maximum value out of them - see each website for details. Often on Nectar's website they offer better deals than just spending the points at Sainsburys of Argos for example.
10 - Keep a spending diary at http://www.spendingdiary.com/ - easy and quick to log into, super easy to use. Then you can see what's being spent where of your personal monthly allowance, or shopping budget for example.
11 - A bonus one - sall stuff you no longer want or need - unwanted Christmas pressies? Ebay or Amazon them, or see musicmagpie.co.uk, or go to a boot fair. You may also want to Freecycle items if they are unsellable - someone's junk is almost always someone else's treasure. We got a free bathroom suite, ironing board, cd player, 12 magazines, books and much more that way in the past 12 months.

Any idead and tips you would like to share are most welcome - what's the most significant money saving tip for you?

Happy 2011 and thanks for supporting this blog - it inspires me to keep saving money and hopefully help others too along the way!