March Monthly money round up

This month hasn’t been too bad for stashing away a few extra pennies and we are now on track for the big move in a couple of month’s time (bit scary now!).

I sold my beautiful pink shopper bike on Facebay for £60.00. I loved it but, with work and a little one, just never got the chance to ride it – this went straight in the moving fund.

bike

I much prefer Facebay to ebay, so much quicker and without the hassle of postage. I also love buying bits off there. This week was a Toy Story cot bed duvet cover – Sam’s latest love and kind of mine too!  A bargain at £3.00.

I took the chance to do more overtime this month – an extra £110.00

I’ve managed to reduce the weekly shop from £60 to £55 a week over the month, mainly by buying slightly less and freezing more. I seem to make a lot of stuffing balls but end up with a lot of waste, so this time froze the excess, the same with a punnet of mushrooms, which were then used for another couple of meals. I’ve also started buying pasta in bulk. Small changes but they mount up over the course of a  month. I have also just signed up for a free trial of Tesco’s Delivery Saving Scheme, which, straight away, saves me £12 to £15 per month!

I’m still using Swagbucks and One Poll to save for Christmas presents and buying bits as and when I see them.

Happy saving x

 

 

Easter fun!

I’m definitely one for an occasion – I absolutely love Christmas and Easter. I have even more of an excuse to go a bit over the top now that I have a little one!

I’ve always wanted an Easter tree but they are usually stupidly expensive for a bit of plastic, so this year I made my own. We hunted the twigs down on one of our many woodland walks and then decorated it with some pretty chicks, eggs and glitter – all from Poundland. Sam loves it and, as I already had the planter, it cost me a grand total of £3.00. Bargain!

PicMonkey Collage 2.jpgI also picked up this gorgeous little pot from there, added some chicks and an egg stake, and a cute little Easter treat for my mum, rather than the obligatory egg, as she’s following  the Slimming World plan!

I have to admit, I am a bit of a Poundland obsessive. I love the fact that you can pick up so many cute bits for pence. Sam had loads of fun this week with a doctor’s set, proof you don’t have to spend a fortune.

Happy Easter!

 

 

Make & bake to save

Anyone who knows me will know that I love cake, whatever form it comes in!

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that kids also love a special birthday cake, especially anything themed. Even a pretty basic shop bought cake birthday cake (which can, half of the time, taste no better than a bit of old cardboard!) costs around the £8.00 to £10.00 mark and if you commission a professional you’re looking at anything from £30 upwards (rightly so given the effort & skill required) If you have more than one child this, together with present and party costs, can push you over budget. My advice? Have a go at making your own!

Since having Sam, I’ve made birthday cakes for him myself using a tried and tested basic recipe (see below). The ingredients are as cheap as chips and the method basic: just cream the butter and sugar, throw the rest in, mix and put in a greased baking tray. Cook at 180 for approximately 50 minutes. You will need:

  • 150g butter
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
  • 3 eggs
  • 225g plain flour
  • 1.5 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons of milk

This was my attempt for his first birthday, using a number 1 mould picked up from Amazon for around £3.00. I covered the cake in a layer of buttercream, added basic fondant icing, bought a boxed pack of supermarket coloured icing and used a couple of cutters that had been free with a baking mag. It cost me around £6.00 and was yummy. Sam ate far too much and we had a sleepless night but that’s another story.

owl cakeSam’s 2nd birthday cake was a little more of a challenge, as he was adamant he wanted Thomas! I bought a little Thomas mould from Amazon and used the go to maderia recipe. I used my friend google for some cakey inspiration and whilst not perfect, it was appreciated by my little guy, who still chats about his Thomas cake. This cost around £8.00 in total.

new thomas poloThe best part is that it doesn’t matter if it isn’t perfect. We are our own worse critics and the chances are your kids won’t be but will , instead, be thrilled with the time and effort you have dedicated.

Happy baking 🙂

 

 

 

Get Comping!

Spare a few hours week and like the postie bringing  you ‘nice’ mail? Get comping!

I started entering competitions online whilst on maternity leave nearly 3 years ago. I was fat, swollen and spent quite a bit of the latter stages of my pregnancy sofa bound. Around this time I discovered Twitter and saw lots of people entering competitions and decided to give it a go for myself.

I used to be in the ‘I never win anything’ camp but, in reality, if you don’t enter a decent amount of competitions or give up too quickly, you probably won’t win anything. I’ve learnt that to do well you need to be consistent and cross your fingers for a little bit of luck.

I mainly enter re-tweet (RT) comps on Twitter and, on a good day, can enter around 100. I also enter quite a few on Facebook but have never really been a fan of the share requirement. Specific times of the year such as Christmas and Easter herald the start of more competitions than usual, so your chances of winning rise a little more. I’ve had some great wins including:

  • 3 night cottage holiday in Suffolk
  • Instant camera
  • Fortnum & Mason Christmas hamper
  • Huge Benefit make up hamper (still using some of it)
  • Marc Jacobs perfume hamper
  • Salon hair dryer
  • garden tools
  • Hair extensions
  • Joules leather bag
  • Huge baking bundle

Whilst there are specific sites which can direct you to the best comps, such as The Prize Finder, I tend to stick to Twitter and Facebook, as I’ve a lot less time now with working and a toddler to dedicate to it. I do need to get back on track, though, as it’s a great feeling having a little win. There’s a big ‘comping’ community on Twitter and it pays to use some etiquette, such RT the original promoter tweet, rather then the person who has RT. This is because it can cause a person’s notifications to go mad, irritate them and lead to them possibly blocking you from seeing their timeline! Bit of a minefield as a newbie but do take the time to get acquainted with it.

Anyone else love a comp?

 

Shaving and saving

I’m well on track for saving more on the total cost of my weekly shop this month, which should funnel a few more pounds into the moving fund. This week I managed to shave £10.00 off the weekly spend, so put out the bunting!

Keeping to shopping online has kept me moving in the right direction and I snagged a couple of online codes to add a couple of nice freebies to my basket, which may benefit anyone who shops with Tesco.

pizza.jpg

To grab a yummy looking Goodfelllas Deli pizza add code GRKK7L  when checking out but be quick, as this is a limited offer.

To get £1.00 off a 1 litre box of Almond Breeze (currently reduced from £1.50 to £1.00, so free!) enter code XXHN74 at check out or grab a copy of the latest Tesco magazine and use the hard copy coupon in-store. I make my own smoothies every day to combat my crazy early morning starts, so am looking forward to using this in my little blender.

Follow me on Facebook or Twitter for more discount codes and bargains. Happy hunting 🙂

 

 

 

Beautiful Blooms at the Orchard

As mentioned in a previous post, I was very excited to join The Orchard at Tesco, a scheme giving customers and colleagues the chance to try new products and services, either for free or at a discount. I absolutely love trying new things, so was excited to get stuck into my first programme – Fresh Flowers at Tesco.

I used my vouchers to buy two lovely bunches of blooms and then also purchased some daffodils (still my fave spring flower) and a lovely indoor trug for my mum for Mother’s Day. I do love having fresh flowers in the home. They brighten up a corner and bring personality to a room.

FLOWERS

So, the all important verdict! I was genuinely impressed. The flowers were well presented, so ideal if you were gifting and there was a wide selection at the Extra store I made my purchase at. Each bunch (aside from the daffodils) came with a sachet of powder to extend the life of the flowers. Most importantly, they looked fresh on the day of purchase, with many of the flower heads still buds. This was fab, as you know you are going to get a bit of mileage from your bunch. That’s usually my bugbear, shelling out for flowers only for them to look half dead a couple of days later. Glad to report that’s not the case here and that three days on, my bunch are still going strong and look better than when  purchased, as the daffodils have opened up and are looking very spring like on my dresser!

I am definitely more inclined to purchase for myself and as a gift for friends and family in the future as a result of this programme, so thumbs up all around!

 

  • Please note that whilst I am a colleague at Tesco, my views, as with everything on this blog, are all my own *

Love freebies, love So Post

I love a freebie well, who doesn’t! Lately, I have had some lovely little goodies pop through my post box courtesy of So Post: a full size Olay mascara, Revlon lipstick, face mask and a Roche Posay skincare set. Essentially, So Post helps brands drive product sampling online.

A great Facebook page: Latest Free Stuff posts the links as and when the promotions crop up. Generally, it works on a referral basis, so you nominate a friend on Facebook to receive the offer and, hopefully(!) they return the favour!

Today’s lucky package was this lush Smashbox trial set of X-Rated Mascara and Photo Finish Lash Primer. Looking forward to giving these bad boys a go!

so post

Give it a go!

 

Car Insurance – happy haggling

One of the biggest savings I make a year is with my car insurance. I have never paid the full renewal price but it seems that many automatically renew each year. I recently read that a staggering billion a year could be saved if people didn’t just accept their renewal price.car

I start looking for the best quote 4 – 5 weeks before my renewal is due. I use a mixture of price comparison websites and individuals, as not all companies are listed on the sites. I then ensure that the competitive quotes include all the benefits of my current insurance and that mileage and excess are the same, as when it comes to bargaining with the insurer they will look for little differences as to why they can’t match the quote you have found. Be sure to make a note of the reference of any quotes and have them in front of you when speaking to your insurer. It’s worth looking at insurance offered by the supermarkets too, as they can often include club card points etc.

I generally haggle the quote down to around £100-£150 less than I have been quoted. This year I have changed insurer and  and used a staff discount to benefit, so from the original £450 I was quoted have paid just £285. Pretty happy with that!

Do be careful and check that your policy doesn’t automatically renew – lots of people get caught out this way and then end up needing to pay a cancellation fee if they don’t want or need the cover.

Happy haggling!