Wednesday, 29 February 2012

A guide to getting a good deal at the mechanics

Once the process of buying a new or used car is complete, and your latest set of wheels stands gleaming in the driveway, you’ll want to take care of your purchase. A well-maintained car is likely to be safer, more reliable and last longer than a vehicle that is not properly serviced. It is important, therefore, to find a mechanic that will do a good job, but keeping the costs down means doing your homework.


Car dealerships and franchises will argue with some validity that their in-depth knowledge of your make and model of car gives them an advantage over their independent rivals. They could be able to source replacement parts more easily and they might offer guarantees not available elsewhere.

When it comes to price, though, recent research estimates that franchised dealer workshops are 57% more expensive than independent garages.

It is a condition of some warranty agreements that your vehicle is serviced at a named dealer, so always check this before making the initial purchase. If your car is still under warranty it is well worth reading the agreement thoroughly before every visit to the mechanic, to check that you are not paying for repairs covered by your contract.

If you decide to go with a dealer, do shop around as prices vary even between franchises selling the same brand of car.


You might decide to opt for an independent mechanic but, if so, how do you know who to trust with your car? A word-of-mouth recommendation can be worth its weight in gold but, nevertheless, standards can vary. Try looking at customer review forums online, to see how other customers rate the service.

One of the chief advantages of going with a local mechanic is that they could have expert knowledge across a wide range of different makes and models of car. Therefore, when you change your vehicle, you are less likely to have to change garage as well. Building up a personal relationship with a mechanic you trust can give peace of mind in the long term.


If you can do a job yourself, you’ll save money – but do you have the knowledge? A read though of your vehicle handbook should equip you with enough knowledge on how to top up engine oil, coolant and other fluids.

For more advanced maintenance and repair work, you might consider taking a course at your local adult education college. Always put safety first. If you are at all unsure of your ability to fix a fault, it is much better to leave it to the professionals.


Whoever does your servicing, you need to know that you are being treated fairly and that your car is getting top quality attention.

Motorcodes is a government-backed, self-regulatory body for the motor industry, and its members are committed to driving up standards across the sector. Use the online search tool to find an approved garage in your area, or rate a garage that you have used by completing the requisite form.

Peace of mind

Choosing the right mechanic will give you peace of mind that your car is in good hands. Also look for car insurance that gives you adequate cover for you and your family in case of accidents and unfortunate incidents.

Posted as I am part of the Sainsburys Blogger Network

Monday, 27 February 2012

Win a Fijit Friend with Argos and A Thrifty Mum

I have a fab giveaway for you on behalf of Argos.  Now as you may know I have two boys, so have no experience of a Fidgit Friend, but the lovely (Mostly) Yummy Mummy, who is a long time twitter friend actually reviewed one last year and has a great post all about them and what they do.

I find that blog competitions are a great way of getting toys for the boys for Christmas and birthdays and am hoping to find many ore ways to get toys frugally when I read through y comments after this competition.

A Fijit Friend is your new interactive best friend. Watch as she chats with you using over 150 phrases and dances to music with her hilariously fidgety body! Great for hours of entertainment and best friend fun!

This prize has been supplied courtesy of Argos. Argos stocks a huge range of nursery toys and baby equipment from cot beds and nursery furniture, to a wide range of pushchairs, including the three wheel baby jogger, and other many quality brands. …. If its great toys you’re looking for, make a start by entering our competition below!

Monday, 13 February 2012

Cutting your supermarket bill week on week

Are you feeling cash conscious at this time of year?
Who isn't?
Here are my tips for cutting your supermarket bill, week on week, month on month
  • Change your supermarket.  If you normally go to  Tesco or Sainsbury’s then try going to Lidl or Aldi for your main shop. It's possible to save around £70 a week alone on switching supermarkets.  You will also find that you are not always talking about a cut in quality when taking a cut in price.  Aldi was voted supermarket of the year at the Which Awards.
  • Use a shopping comparison site such as My Supermarket, who provide a free cost comparison service.  If you have a set list of items that you buy week on week, why not find out which supermarket is cheapest.
  • Keep an eye out for supermarket promotions like the Sainsbury's live well for less which is back on 25 January with a five meals for £20 offer.
  • Downshift your product.  If you always buy from a top-end range, then try the basic range or if you buy branded then try a supermarket's own brand products. Money Supermarket estimates you can save 15% of your annual shopping bill, or around £800, without noticing by using this technique.
  • Only buy BOGOF (buy one get one free) if you have a genuine need for the product. 
  • Spot  vouchers and deals, make sure that you always cut out and keep any money off coupons that you have.  You often can find money off vouchers in the free magazines that supermarkets give away.  Also if you have a baby or toddler sign up to the supermarket clubs as they will often post out specific voucher out to you. 
  • Buy seasonal food.  Supermarkets tend to offer seasonal fruit and vegetables at a lower price due to gluts at certain times in the year.  Not only is this a more ethical way to shop, but it is usually less expensive too.  Eat the seasons tells you what is in season now.
  • Use your local shops.  I know that people tend to think that supermarkets offer food at cheaper prices, but my local greengrocer is cheaper for fruit and veg a lot of the time and the market is even less.
  • Never shop when you are hungry,  We all are prone to buying more when we are hungry.
  • Use a shopping list and menu plan, this prevents impulse buying.  Organised Mum has some great shopping list and menu planner pads that you can buy.
  • Buy food with short sell by dates on.  It always pays to know at what time your local supermarket discounts it items that need to be sold.  I always use my nose to check when food is going off, rather than relying on sell by and best before dates and I always remember my freezer is my friend and freeze any short date items.
  • Make sure that you have a loyalty card for every supermarket you use that has one.  Sometimes you get more points with certain items.  Tesco, The Co-Op and Sainsbury all have loyalty cards.
What are your top tips for saving on your supermarket bills?

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Guest Post - 5 Whacky Ways to Save Money in January

How many of us have set the same New Years money saving resolutions each year, only to see them broken come the end of January? Well I know I have. So, with this in mind, I have created 5 whacky ways to save money this year that you will stick to. Have a read and enjoy! 

Dinner in the dark? 

 In the evening, we spend the most amount of money on energy lighting our homes. With this in mind I have created a unique way of saving money that involves the whole family. Once a week, my daughters and I eat a family meal together by candle light. Do the same and share a cosy dinner together with your little ones. You could even entertain them with a shadow puppets show! 

Fancy a Wind Turbine? 

Did you know that you can power your house using natural wind? Wind energy can save you a small fortune in energy bills and in certain areas of the UK you will not be charged any tax if you choose to install one. 

Cool off with a cold shower 

I know it’s January and extremely cold, but taking a cold shower will save you money on your utility bill as electricity is needed to warm up the water. With this in mind, why not make a small saving by choosing a cold shower once a week? 

Say no to gadgets! 

Years ago people didn’t use iPhones or digital toasters. Why not return to basics and cut back on your gadgetry. I did this and saved myself nearly £60 on my utility bills. Give it a few months and you will forget you ever owned an electronic blender.

Bulk Buy 

Whenever I need to repair the home or have some work done to my property, I always try and get the materials online. There are some great savings out there for you and the family. I recently needed to sound proof my husband’s work office but the quote given to me from a builder was unbelievably expensive. Instead, I went online and purchased some acoustic foam and soundproofed the walls myself. Similar in material to packaging foam the fabric did a great job and at a fraction of the price quoted to us by a local builder. Go online and buy your materials in bulk. You’ll make some unbelievable savings for you and the family. 

Did you like my tips? Do you have any of your own you can share?

This is a guest post by Hillary Thomas

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Do you know how much you spend each month?

Do you know how much you spend regularly each month?
No? Well then it is time to make a full list of your spends!
I am talking about all of your regular fixed outgoings, including mortgage or rent, council tax, water rates, TV licence, gas, electric, TV costs, phone charges (home and mobile), insurances (home, buildings, car and personal), school lunch money, swimming lessons, fuel and any subscriptions you may have.
If you do your banking online, then you can print off a list of standing orders and direct debits, otherwise pop into your bank and ask them to do it for you the next time you are passing.
Next you need to look at all your variable (changeable) expenses each month, so you need  to keep your receipts for one month’s shopping in one place, you can come up with a complete list of expenditure.  Don’t forget those lattes on the way to work or those children’s magazines we all buy when we give in to pester power (or is that just me?).  So make sure you get receipts for everything including fuel.
Then make a list at the end of a month breaking it all down in to categories, including food, fuel, fun, and well, frivolous.
It is really easy to use a speadsheet to do this for you and add it all up, but to be honest a pen, paper and calculator will do as good a job.
Daddacool explains a great way of keeping track of your disposable income using a cashbook system (yes you can tell he is a mild mannered accountant in real life) which will help you ascertain if you spend more some weeks than others over the month too.
Once you know how much you spend each month you can start to look at ways to make savings, which I will discuss in forth coming posts!

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