Wednesday, 27 March 2013

10 Top Money Saving Ideas

Inspired by a Money Supermarket Competition I've spotted on Miss Thifty's blog, here's my top ten money saving strategies that I follow to ensure I have the spare cash to live My Cava Lifestyle!

Save Money - Reduce Debt

1. Allocate The Money You Save
Every penny you save needs to be put to good use.  If you save £2 by buying tinned tomatoes on offer, put that £2 against a debt you need to pay off.  If you save £20 by getting a second hand school uniform, put that £20 in your holiday savings fund.  Whatever you do, don't leave it lingering in your wallet or it will disappear on mundane items such as milk and bread.

2. Watch Money Like a Hawk
You need to know exactly how much is in each bank account and more importantly where the money goes out of the account.  Do you have an old subscription you could cancel?  Are you using your debit card a little too freely? You need to keep control to make sure you are not wasting money or incurring bank charges.

3. See What You Spend
Go to the cash machine at the start of your shopping trip and draw out the money.  When you actually hand over your cash, you are more aware of how much you have spent.  Spending on cards is too easy and many get carried away and overspend.

Meal planning monday at
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4. Cut the Big Bill:  Food
For one week, add up the value of the food you throw away.  You'll be amazed and probably gutted at the amount of money you have wasted.  Plan your meals and only buy what you need to.  Stick to your meal plan to minimise waste.

5. Cut the Big Bill: Gas and Electric
It does pay to switch.  Being loyal doesn't pay.  Prices sneak up without you noticing and before you know it, the good deal you signed up for last year isn't so good anymore. Subscribe to the Money Saving Expert newsletter for the heads up on the right time to change.

6. Cut the Big Bill: Fuel
Petrol and diesel prices are ridiculous compared to 10 years ago, but then are we using our cars a ridiculous amount?  Get fit, walk to the shops, walk to and from school.  I'm amazed by how many people I see driving their dog to the park (there's loads of parks and a beach where I live, there really must be one in walking distance of most dog owners homes!)  If you can manage one less fuel fill up every month, that can equate to around £700 savings per year!! (or as I like to call it - a holiday!)

6. Non-Package Holidays
A self catering holiday abroad in a privately owned property is massively cheaper than a package holiday.  Ask around, someone in your circles will either have or know someone who has a property abroad to let out.  And if they don't, there are many websites where private owners advertise.  Flights are expensive, so night flights and one way tickets rather than returns may bring the price of the flight down.  Ask owners for the very best price on a hard to let week.  They need your booking.

7. Be a Go To Spender
All sales people have targets to meet.  Get chatty and get to know your local sales staff face to face. The  travel agent, home appliance salesperson, the car dealer, the furniture seller and even the owner of the best clothes store in town. Give them your mobile number and your email address and let them know you will spend if the deal is good enough.  Sounds crazy?! Why buy a TV when you don't need one?  Because you can sell the old one on EBay whilst you're getting money off a brand spanking new treasure!!  All stores have to clear stock and there's bargains to be had if you ask.

8. Share the (Child)Care
Kids love going to their mates.  They love having their mates round.  Everyones occupied and your not struggling to meet the high cost of holiday childcare. (ironically usually more than an acutal holiday)  So long as you return the favour and each family takes their turn, this is a great solution for everyone.

9. Second Hand Should Be First Look
Don't spend a penny until you have scoured a site like EBay for a perfectly good pre-owned item.  Baby pushchairs can be picked up for £6, wooden cribs are going for 99p!  Items that are bulky sell for next to nothing and are in perfectly good working order.  This is a brilliant strategy to get your christmas shopping done early and you'll look SO generous and SO considerate!!  Set up alerts on the EBay app on your smartphone to nab the stuff you want for a fraction of the original price.

10.  File Guarantees and Receipts
How many times does something break and you say "What a Waste of Money" and you can't take it back because you can't find the guarantee or receipt?  Either file, or if you're short on space, scan your receipts and guarantees.

This is my entry into the Money Supermarket Competition on The Miss Thrifty Blog.  Hop over and see what other money saving tips have been posted.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Home Made Ready Meal Planning

My masterplan of cooking and freezing in order to escape the mundanity of cooking every day is working fabulously well!!  And We're saving a FORTUNE as we're just not wasting food!

I've done a three week plan and I'm adding in anything we miss, such as we had takeaway (yes! really!  Surprising, I know!)  instead of Chilli last week so that Chilli meal will be put in the next empty slot in three weeks time.  Doing it so far in advance is easier than doing a week plan and cooking as you go.  I can highly recommend being organised!!

So here's the plan for this week....(Monday has changed already as we've loads of leftover mash from tonights toad in the hole so potato cakes are a necessity)

Monday: Potato Cakes, Beans and Bacon
Potato cakes made the night before and refrigerated
Prepped at same time as potato cakes
Wednesday: Jambalaya
All raw ingredients defrosted and put in slow cooker
Thursday: Crispy Salmon Fillet in a Tomato Sauce
A Gino D'ACampo Recipe, prepped and frozen raw.
Will bake from frozen in oven
Good Friday: Vegetable Chilli
Defrosted and cooked on hob
Saturday:  Takeaway No Doubt
Easter Sunday: Meatballs and Spaghetti
Defrosted and cooked in slow cooker

There's loads more (usually about 50) meal plans on At Home With Mrs M 
Go over and have a read, add yours if you have a meal plan.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Key Stage 2 SATS Revision

I'm not going to force my child to revise nor do I particularly put much value on their SATs results.

It's not that I don't want my child to do well, nor is it that I don't care.  It's that the pressure being heaped on the year six children is getting absolutely ridiculous.

I was first naffed off with it when I attended the SATs parents talk back in October, when we were told... (yes told....)

"Your child needs to know their times tables and needs to be able to recall them fast as they've only 45 minutes to do a test.  When they are on the toilet, stand at the bottom of the stairs and shout up various sums for them to shout the answer back."

Come on. 


Can't an 11 year old have a s*** in peace?

In the same sermon, meeting we were told that us as parents really need to help our children along as some year six children don't know the difference between a circle and a triangle.

Personally, I see that as a school failing.  After six and a half years of being a pupil in the school, if the teachers haven't been able to teach the difference, then surely they are failing, not the parents. 

Needless to say, I didn't buy the revision books nor did I force my child to revise last week for the practice SATs this week.

A child is as capable as they are.  The majority of schools are non-selective.  They don't rely on SATs results to offer places.  The only reason primary schools are pushing is to up their results up the league tables.  Any streaming of children in year 7 is reassessed after 3 months so there really is no need to hammer the children like they would be on the scrapheap if they don't get high marks.

The final straw was when I heard of a child developing alopecia as a result of the pressure being mounted on them by the school.

It is unfair and ridiculous.  Life is stressful enough.  Let kids be kids as long as they can be.  (and let poor teaching shine through)

Monday, 18 March 2013

Meal Planning Monday - Fresh Freezer Food Week

I've been quiet on the meal planning front as I'm in the throes of getting every aspect of my life organised!  An extra child has really thrown me and things were starting to get even more haphazard and last minute than usual, so I'm setting up systems and routines to make sure things run more smoothly.

So, the meal planning has had a massive overhaul.  The freezer in the garage has been fired up and I've planned a month in advance.  I'm having cooking days where I prep several meals and freeze them so I can just grab and cook which is saving me at least an hour everyday.  Some meals I'm freezing raw, ready to defrost then bung in the slow cooker and some I'm fully cooking and just need to bung in the oven.

So here's this weeks plan...

Hairy Dieters Steak & Ale Pie
Slow Cooked Chicken Casserole
Steak & Chips with Onions and Mushrooms
Possibly a home made curry
Probably a take away curry
Toad in the Hole
Do you utilise your freezer to the max?  What meals do you find taste good after freezing?
Let me know and have a fab week!


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