Simple ways to save before Xmas

Tis almost the season to be jolly but that happiness can be hampered by not having enough cash. Here are a few quick and easy ways to try and boost your pennies before and beyond the big day when most people need to tighten their belts after the festive squeeze.

  • Check your insurance renewals. Our home insurance is due next month and, rather than blindingly accepting the renewal notice I received through the post, I have shopped around and found a better deal. Result? An extra £30 in my pocket.
  • Survey sites – a great way to pick up high street vouchers which you can use to pay for some pressies. My favourites are Swagbucks and Valued Opinions and One Poll pays out in cash. £20/£25 is more than achievable before the big day and they can be used online.
  • Revamp your shopping budget and meal plan like a demon! This is one of the best ways to save money a month and you will see the benefits all year long. I find an online shop the best way to stick to that budget and you benefit from all the online freebies e.g. this week I have a pack of McCain Roast Potatoes for nada. I pay £3.00 per month, which is a tiny fraction of the petrol costs I would incur, together with the stress levels of a physical supermarket shop! Compared to this time last year, I spend £20 per week less.
  • Batch cook your meals. I was getting totally naffed off cooking three separate meals each night at varying times. I now try to get two meals out of every I prepare. For example, I cook a roast chicken on a Sunday and use the leftover meat to make a curry and another little roast for hubs and me. A couple of foil takeaway tubs from Poundland and Bob’s your uncle and we have two extra meals! There is an excellent Facebook page called Feed Yourself for £1 a day which is full of great meal ideas and cheap recipes. It’s revolutionised my meal times and being prepared with something tasty and healthy in the freezer stops you reaching for that takeaway.
  • Make good use of your points! I just cashed in £12.00’s worth of Clubcard vouchers and bought two joints of meat for our Christmas dinner. An easy way to spread the cost of your festive food.

Would be great to hear your top tips!

Vicky x

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Bargain autumnal parka!

I stumbled across this bargain parka the other day whilst browsing the new arrivals on everything5pounds.com.  I do love this site and have picked up some bargains, particularly when they turn out to be ex-high street items.  You do have to be a bit savvy about sizes and it pays to read reviews but, all in all, I am a fan.

parka

My parka came today and I LOVE it! It’s actually ex-Primark stock (Atmosphere) and the quality is brilliant. It’s a great weight for Autumn and an absolute steal for a fiver!

Anyone else picked up some great bargains from the site?

x

 

Freebie Tesco Codes – online shop

It pays to do a quick google search if you do your online shop with Tesco. Each week I do this and there is almost always a freebie on offer! In the last few weeks I’ve benefited from free packs of yoghurts (luxury ones), pizza and almond milk. The offers are always branded and I have never had a problem with availability.

This week, it’s Hellmanns BBQ sauce worth £1.89, with quite a few varieties to choose from. Enter code GRLPTH at checkout to snag your freebie!

 

 

Always check those bills

Bills, bills, bills.

I do think utility companies go out of their way to make their bills as confusing as possible, which often means people don’t check the finer details and just pay what they are told they owe.

I had my electricity bill pop into my inbox this week and was a little confused that it was so high. It’s summer, so no heating, not many lights on as it stays light till late and, we are pretty careful not to waste power.  So, I went through the bill and checked the meter readings from when we had moved in – quite a difference to what they had down. The bill period also included 15 days when we hadn’t even moved into the property! The result? A £27 credit towards the next bill!

I was really on the ball when we moved – I gave the correct readings and advised them the day I moved in, yet still they used totally different information. Think how much the companies make from errors like this that go unchecked, day in day out.

Keep more of your hard earned money in your pocket – go through those bills with a fine toothed comb and, if in doubt, query it.

Vicky x

 

 

Cut price cleaning!

I have to admit, I am a little cleaning obsessed and can’t really relax properly unless the house is tidy. This can prove a little challenging with a whirlwind of a 2 year old!

I used to spend a pretty penny on cleaning products, until I came to the conclusion that you only need a few key products, some of which you might already have in your cupboards.

clean

Bicarbonate of Soda is a little miracle for me and saved the cost of a professional oven clean when I moved (yep, I’m a bit slummy mummy when it comes to a full clean of the oven!).  Mix a little of this into a paste, spread over the whole oven, spritz with some white vinegar, leave for a few hours or overnight and, by the morning, just wipe the sludge away.  It’s great for removing clothing stains. Just mix a little with water and rub on and it’s gone, without the expense of Vanish.  It also does a good job of removing carpet stains and helps refresh a stinky old carpet when you sprinkle it on liberally, leave for an hour and then hoover off. It was also a brilliant freshner for our gag inducing wheelie bin!

I use white vinegar diluted in a spray bottle for windows, sinks and taps. It’s really effective and not as harsh as other cleaning products.  A bottle lasts for ages and can be picked up for pence.

My other go to fave, is good old run of the mill bleach. I don’t think you can beat it for toilet and drains.  A toothbrush and a little neat bleach brings tired old grouting and tiles up a treat.

For kitchen surfaces and bathrooms I buy a huge bottle of Flash cleaner and dilute it into a spray bottle. It lasts months this way and saves me a good £10 a month on separate sprays for the bathroom and kitchen and it’s great for mopping the floors.

Anyone else have some handy household tips to share?

Vicky

It pays to complain

I really don’t enjoy complaining but there are times when the level of service received is so poor that it’s necessary.

I recently had a beyond frustrating and lengthy battle with BT to get my broadband installed . It took a few weeks to get the initial appointment, 2 missed engineer appointments and then a further week and a bit for someone to flick the switch and get the damned thing working. The worst part was the poor customer service – nobody bothered to telephone to say they wouldn’t be turning but instead left me waiting 5 hours each time with a toddler, who did not enjoy being couped up! I would have been charged a fee had I not been in when the appointment was scheduled. I wasted a huge amount of time on ‘Live Chat’, quite galling to have to use an online based service when you are waiting to be online! I lost time of the time wasted speaking to people who made me repeat myself countless times and who still couldn’t answer my query (presumably because it deviated from their script) so just disconnected me.

In the end, I did what I would encourage anyone else to do – use Twitter to air your grievance in public. No company likes bad publicity and you will find you will be connected pretty quickly to try and resolve the matter. Whilst it still took some time, they assigned a caseworker to deal with the complaint through to resolution.

I would recommend also doing some quick research. I was very peeved that I wouldn’t be compensated for my lost time, so read the company’s Customer Service Charter and found out that I was entitled to claim £10.00 for each missed appointment. Nobody ever mentioned this to me, despite speaking to a number of different people.

In the end, I was compensated to the tune of nearly three month’s broadband. I’m a strong believer that if you are paying a pretty penny for a service, you deserve a certain level of service and, if not, you should do something about it.

Vicky x

Fun with Frenchic

I’ve never been one for run of the mill furniture. I really don’t want my bits and bobs to look the same as anyone else’s, as I’m a firm believer that your home is a reflection of you. The up side is also that it can save you a pretty penny.

I had my first go at up-cycling when I bought a nest of tables for a few pounds at a car boot. I had great fun sanding and painting and was really pleased with the end result -they were a real labour of love and are, to this day, still dotted in various corners of my home.

Since my son was born, and with work,  me-time has pretty much been obliterated but I do have nap slots that I want to put to good use and decided I would start to up-cycle again. I do love the thrill of finding a piece and changing it to what I want.

UPCYCLE

I really want to improve my skills so, this morning, I set off on a Frenchic chalk paint workshop to have a go using a photo frame. I am seriously impressed with the paint – no nasty smells or chemicals and you can paint it on to pretty much anything. I also love the ‘lazy’ range which already has a wax in the paint, saving you time and money. Move over Annie Sloan, you have a serious rival right here.  I found it so therapeutic to paint, eat cake and chat with some like-minded ladies.

With a new brush, a couple of tester pots and a a pair of sparkly glass door knobs,I am now totally inspired to revamp some of my current furniture – the first being a dark wood TV stand I picked up for a tenner prior to moving.

Looking forward to sharing the results to what I hope will be a little sideline for me one day.

Vicky x

 

 

Fragrance dupes

Like most women, I love a bit of perfume and do my best to smell well, fragrant! Back in the glory days of a decent full-time wage before having a wee one, I was a big lover of Marc Jacob’s Daisy and a liberal splash of CK one (fond memories of my formative teenage years). Now, whilst we are stashing every available penny and pound into the mortgage fund, I have a much more modest budget.

perfume

I did a little research and stumbled across a company called Milton Lloyd, who are well known for producing dupe scents at very reasonable prices. I discovered that DNA was a good ‘smell alike’ for Armani Code and Pure Lady Gold for Paco Rabanne’s Lady Millionaire. I picked up each bottle for £2.99 on sale from Fragrance Direct (great service btw). I’m very impressed with both scents and have had some nice compliments since wearing them. Admittedly, you do have to reapply more often than the premium brands but they are still a great bargain and the range is absolutely huge.

I’ve since also picked up Precious Amelia from Poundland. Admittedly, my expectations were nil when I bought this, fully expecting to stash it in the airing cupboard to use as an emergency air freshener but I love it. To me, it has a slight smell of YSL’s Opium. Not bad at all for a quid and a nice little pick me up treat. It’s worth mentioning too that I have pretty sensitive skin but none of the scents have caused any sort of irritation.

Anyone else know of some good dupes?

Vicky x

From the kitchen table

Well, after a three month hiatus, I’m back blogging from my new fave spot, the kitchen table! Got to love this view too 🙂

home

Moving was a long, tiring and very expensive process – 3k in all, so now we are back full steam saving for our house deposit for next year.  We’ve settled in well and are now both committed to achieving our next goal.

I’m looking forward to sharing some money saving cleaning and DIY tips in the next few weeks and some money saving tips for presents (the C word is now less than 6 months away!). Tomorrow I’m off on my first painting and up-cycling workshop and have plans to transform some pre-loved furniture in the next few months. Tomorrow’s project is a photo frame using some Frenchic paint, so I look forward to sharing the results!

Vicky x

 

 

Saving on your online weekly shop

I’ve found the best way to stick to my shopping budget each week is by doing the shop online. That way, I’m never tempted by special end of the aisle offers for items that, quite frankly, I don’t need. I can also chop and change my basket if I go over budget and can quickly work out whether I have all the ingredients I need for that week’s meal plan. I also detest visiting supermarkets so, all in all, this works out well for me!

Generally, I try and find the cheapest delivery slot for a time I know I will be in midweek, which usually ends up costing around £3. Some slots (mostly weekends) can attract a whopping £6 or £7 premium. Whilst only a few pounds, this mounts up over the course of the month to around £12-£15. So, last week I took out a free trial of Tesco’s Delivery Saver Plan. I chose the any time option which, at £6, would still save me a fair whack a month and also means that I can benefit from free standard delivery on F&F clothing and click and collect on Tesco Direct orders over a tenner (these have recently started attracting a £2 charge).

I’m pretty chuffed so far, as I can order anytime and go for the more expensive slots I usually shun! I will take out the full £6 subscription when the month ends (you can get cheaper midweek plans).

Do you all prefer online shopping?