Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Could I live off the state pension?

There is a lot of talk in the press of the fact that we are no longer in a double dip recession  but then in my little word it is hard to see and it is also hard to make ends meet.  We struggle to make sure we have money at the end of the month and the one area taking a hit financially is our pensions.

The government is aware that many people will have to live on the current pension of £140 a week and is introducing an auto enrollment policy for pensions which means that as an employee you will automatically be included in your employer's pension.

So could we live on £140 a week.  I know for a fact that we couldn't at this moment in time.  maybe once the boys leave home and the mortgage is paid off, but we still couldn't do it comfortably.  I have wrote in the past about feeding a family of four on £50, which I fear is now impossible to do well with the inflation and food cost increases.

At the moment both the boys go to Beavers and play Junior football the costs for that a month amount to £80 alone without any trips, fuel to take them places or their uniform.

Our main weekly expenditure at the moment is:

Food                 £80
Fuel                  £25
Boys Activities   £20
Council Tax       £35
Gas & Electric    £45

There is also mortgage, phone, broadband, insurances, MOT, dental costs, TV licence, car services and many other expenses that we pay on a monthly basis and I just do not see how we would manage on a small amount.

But the hope for us is that as the boys leave home we can add more to our pension pot and hopefully have enough to give us a decent retirement.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

99p for a dress is just wrong

A UK online fashion retailer was selling a party dress for just 99p and was quoted (yes it was in the daily fail) saying

"We recognise the fact that girls do not like to be seen in the same dress twice especially with photos circulating on social media websites. Looking good and creating a new look for each night out comes with a price tag - not any more,"

99p for a dress, even with £2.99 postage, I find this shocking in this day and age that a store can justify selling clothes for this price.  Not even many charity shops are selling clothes at that price anymore.

In todays financial society it pains me to think of any company encouraging a disposable society.  I do wonder how many of these dresses will end up in landfill rather than charity shops.

How do we encourage our children to "make do and mend" and to understand the value of anything if this is the sort of message they are receiving from elsewhere.  I want my children to understand the stress that a disposable lifestyle puts on our environment and for them to think twice before buying another item.

I try to ensure that I purchase ethically where possible and also that we reuse, recycle  upcycle or pass on what items we can when we have done with them. 

I would love to know your thoughts on this.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Five ways in five days - Autumn Crafts

It is half term in The Mad House this week and we will be trying get outside this half term,  but it the weather is too wet then we will make the most of our family time and get our craft on!  So in honor of half term this weeks Five ways on five days focusses on Autumn crafts.

If you do not want to pick the leaves with your children or they are soggy and horrible then use free autumn pintables and let your child colour them in and stick them to a tree template.  This is the perfect simple autumn craft that is great for encouraging scissor skills.

There is something about the wonderful autumnal colours that make crafting at this time of the year so appealing.  We love gluing and sticking and this packing chip or playmais art is fantastic fun. 

Maxi even made a bonfire and hedgehogs with the chips.

You do not have to always stick to white paper, sometimes the darker nights make a great excuse for dark paper and using chalks or crayons to mark on them

One of most favourite things to do at this time of year is to make child safe edible sparklers

We make them for both the boys classes at school.  They are a fun, safe and simple way to celebrate Bonfire night.

 I also had to include this fantastic leaf art by my friend Cathy     at Nurturestore.  I do this with the boys and they adore it.  So simple, yet so effective.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Make Half term "bearable" with the National Railways Museum and Paddington Bear

I have said many times before, we are huge fans of The National Railway Museum in York.  It is a free museum with stacks of attractions and things to keep everyone busy, from train mad children to train mad men!

This half term it is fun with Paddington Bear.  In addition from the standard free activities and science shows, you can:

  • Meet Paddington
  • Dress up like Paddington
  • Have a go at Welling Wanging and make your own medal (small charge)

The NRM invited the Madhouse family to go and have a picnic with Paddington and some other bloggers  including Kate from The Five F's, (Mostly) Yummy Mummy and Bringing up Charlie and to experience the fun with our children.

It pays to take  a look at the daily activity sheet which you are given on arrival, so you can plan what you want to see and when.

My boys love, the storytelling and science shows and always insist on riding the steam train (£2 per adult and £1 per child).  We also spend copious amounts of time in the model railway section.

The other great thing about the museum is there is ample picnicking facilities both outside and indoors and also most of the activities are under cover, so it is the perfect place to visit if the weather is bad.  There is also a small outdoor play area, perfect for the under sixes, which is the good weather is always very busy.

All day parking is £9 per car, although York has excellent park and ride facilities if you prefer and the Museum is a 10 minute walk from the town centre or 1 minute from the train station.  You can also catch the road train to and from the Minister.

All in all a great day out for all the family.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Gathered by Mollie Makes - five free issues

Last month I introduced you to 91, a free online magazine.  Well this month I want to let you know that Mollie Makes (yes I have cancelled my subscription) has brought out a weekly digital ezine for the ipad and you can get the first five issues free.

Gathered is a weekly craft ezine.  It is a weekly publication and costs £2.99 a month or £19.99 a year.  I haven't yet subscribed so can not tell you anything else about it.  Would love to know some more though.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Enriching the life of your young ones

Exposing a child to a lot of recreational activities and experiences from early on in their lives is likely to help them to develop a wide group of friends, enhance their socials skills and also give them a more dynamic childhood.

It is often said that you should teach your children news skills when they are younger, because their brains are still developing and expanding and so they can store more information than an adult. For example, teaching them new languages during their primary days is often easier and more stimulating to a child who is eager to learn. When they grow up, the benefits of a second or a third language is self-evident, especially when considering that so many other children will have this advantage, so it is only fair that they should be given this opportunity.
There are a plethora of hobbies that you can get your child engaged in from an early stage, some of which are detailed below in the hopes that it will inspire:

The Arts
Taking acting, painting or drawing classes at a young age has a lot of advantages. Most children gravitate towards this form of recreation anyways because it is the easiest thing to do with a pen or a crayon when you can’t write.  Instead of just letting this skill fall through the cracks, nurture it because it is a good way for your child to express themselves when words are not enough.

Good Ol’ Footie and Other Sports
The advantage of a good run up and down a football field are huge, and if your child is an overactive child then they will undoubtedly require real exercise to make use of all that energy. Physical activity and sports foster teamwork and it is also a good avenue for them to connect with likeminded kids and develop long lasting friendships.

Check Mate
If your child likes to read or is eager to learn more mentally challenging recreations, then you may want to look into getting them their own chess table or give them a membership to a book club. Reading from an early age will also stimulate a child’s developing minds and as well as give them a wider vocabulary.

The Other Arts
You have probably seen you child following a music video keenly and trying to mimic the moves or even sing a note or two as well. If this continues throughout their childhood, then it may be worth looking at different after school choirs they can join, or get them registered for a dance class of their choosing or even give them an instrument. Who knows, one day they might audition for X-Factor?

Equestrian Games
You probably saw team GB’s equestrian team during the Olympics and thought of how poised and disciplined those riders were. Horseback riding is a good way to teach your child about building bonds and also about being persistent in a field and honing those skills. It takes a lot of commitment to do horseback riding for a long period, but your child will be better for having a hobby that suits their personalities.

This post was contributed by equestrian equipment specialist and horse event sponsor
 Equestrian Clearance.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Autumn Nights

Autumn Nights

Taking Care of my Family

Every hour of every day, I always think about the best way to take care of my family. Whether it’s doing the basics like buying groceries or taking them out on a weekend trip to the beach or an amusement park, I do all I can to make sure they live well. However, if something bad like a serious injury affected me, I wonder whether I would be able to look after them 24/7. Would I have to leave my job because my injury prevented me from doing it? If so, I would have no income whatsoever, which would make paying for everything extremely difficult.

Not having any income to rely on while I’m struggling with a serious injury will make paying for even basics like food and energy challenging. Fortunately, I discovered that there are people I can turn to in times of need. By going to Injury claims for help, I could make a compensation claim against those who caused my injury and, if successful, the money I receive could help take care of my family, meaning I have nothing to worry about apart from making a full recovery.

The accident atwork claim service by first4lawyers means that, if I make the claim, I don’t have to pay them any legal fees if my claim is not a success, which means I really don’t have anything to lose. For whatever reason, accidents and injuries will ultimately find us and if it turns out that you can provide for your family by recovering a proportion of your losses, then I see nothing against it. I have even read about cases of general practitioners who have caused injuries to their patients and if you are a stay at home mom, then an injury is probably the last thing you need when you are there to see to your child’s wellbeing.

Their husbands probably had to take time off from work to come home and take care of them, which means an even greater loss in earning if it’s an extenuating injury. I’m sure they would have been happy to know that there are medicalsolicitors out there to help them in their time of anguish and help recover financially from the impact that this may have on a family.

Protecting my family is my top priority, and I used to worry a lot about what would happen if I couldn’t do it for whatever reason. Thankfully, knowing I can claim compensation means I will be able to look after my family’s finances at the very least.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Your guide to a thrifty Christmas

Thrifty doesn’t have to mean cheap, or at least not in the Scrooge sense of the word. It simply means getting the most for your money and at no time of year is that more valuable than Christmas.

Saving money at every opportunity prevents you from starting the New Year in debt, making for a much happier Christmas for all.

No matter how many bargains you manage to pick up, there will always be that must-have toy that your child wants above all else. For these, check out

A Disney Store voucher code could save you twenty percent or more on high street prices. Keep looking for deals throughout the run up to the festive season. If you can’t find any for the item you are after and you are feeling brave, wait until Christmas Eve as many shops begin their sales early nowadays.

Alternatively, make a home-made voucher for your child entitling them to the gift they want plus a fun day out sales shopping in town with you including lunch at their favourite cafe.

Set yourself a budget and make sure you stick to it. The best way to do this is to make a list of everyone you need to buy for and tally it with the total amount you can afford to spend.

Try to decide what to get people before you hit the shops to save yourself from making pricey impulse buys. Once you know what you want to get, check out the internet for deals or price comparisons.

Home-made gifts are so much more personal than shop-bought presents. Bake cookies, make cards or put together a coupon book for a loved one full of promises for the new year, such as breakfast in bed, a great big hug or a commitment to washing the car once a month.

Many friends will be just as thrilled with a promise of babysitting for an evening than with a material gift. Make sure everyone knows your gifts are from the heart and try to make them as personal as possible.

One of the biggest areas of waste at Christmas time is food. Be realistic about just how much one family can eat and try to stick to foods everyone likes.

Sprouts and parsnips may be seasonal, but if your children only eat carrots and peas then they will just go to waste. Most supermarkets hike the prices of turkeys in the run up to the big day. Consider having a chicken or beef instead – they’re often tastier and will be a fraction of the cost.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Getting more from your batteries and a giveaway

New research has been revealed that one third of alkaline batteries thrown away may still have up to 67% of usable power left.

Power hungry devices such as digital cameras often have a default power off switch, but this doesn't mean the battery is dead. Batteries that have been assumed ‘dead’ can be given a second life by trying them in your low drain household devices such as remote controls, clocks and torches.

In order to prove this Duracell together with Energy Saving Trust sent us a Halloween party pack with torches in for us to use batteries that we previously had thought were dead in and you know what they were right!

We put batteries that had previously been in Maxi's camera, which we thought were empty and they werent,  they are still powering the touch.

I love this video showing just what you can do with batteries that have been thrown away:

That’s not all – They have also provided an extra kit for you to give away to help you get into the Halloween spirit!

So all you need to do to be in with a chance to get your hands on this is to leave me a comment telling me if you let your children trick or treat.  

The giveaway closes at noon on Friday 26th October (so you can get it before Halloween)

And the winner is Snafflesmummy, so please do get in touch with your address.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Personalised Presents for Christmas

Yes I seem to be mentioning the Christmas word a lot this week, but it is in my mind as it is half term next week and that means making christmas puddings in The Mad House!

Sometimes buying for the man in the house can be something of a challenge, but I have been looking at Poster XXL and love some of the products they offer.

I know that A Thrifty Dad would love the iPad case.  He is more than happy to carry around pictures of his children and this is a novel way of doing so, at what I think is a reasonable price for an iPad case.

The same goes with the iPhone bumper case.  I have seen hard covers before, but not personalised bumper cases.

I was also really impressed with the cost for their poster printing.  Both the boys love posters on their walls and it would be great to get some of the pictures they take enlarged so they could use them as posters.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Five ways in five days - Halloween Edition

Do you celebrate halloween?  It seems that more and more people are joining in with this celebration from the US.  We talk about it as a time to celebrate the people that are no longer with us and with the darker nights we use the opportunity to bake and make together as a family.

Day one - paper pumpkins

Perfect to hang up and for children of all ages.  For younger children you can cut out the face shapes in black card.

Day two - Balloon pumpkins

You do not get much simpler than this.  Blow up some orange coloured balloons and then take a permanent marker (Sharpie) to make pumpkin faces on them.  Felt tip pens will just rub off.

Day three - Salt Dough Ornaments 

You can find the ingredients and method for Salt Dough Halloween ornaments on The Mad House. 

Day four - scary sausages

Basically you get a jar of hotdogs or bratwurst and cut into chunks and skewer them with spaghetti. MaxiMad took great care at this and loved doing it, while MiniMad, just shoved them in and started to eat the bratwurst before I had even cooked them.

Day five - paperchain ghosts

We have made these paperchain ghosts for the last three years and they are so simple and easy.  If you go to Skip to my loo, she even has templates to make it easier. 

Thursday, 18 October 2012

My tips for treat and treating

Do you trick and treat?  We haven't always gone out and done it as Maxi doesn't like dressing up and was afraid of people in costumes.  However, he is now seven and is happy to trick or treat, so here are my top tips for you.

  1. All dress up (yes even you) I have a witches hat that I wear when I go out with the boys, all the parents where I live dress up.
  2. Set off when it is just dusk.  
  3. Only go to houses with lights on.  We pop a lantern in our window to signify we are happy for people to visit.
  4. We tend to visit people with children, as we know they will come to us too.
  5. My boys sing a song. The sky is blue the grass is green  have you got a penny for Halloween. I have taught them that we do not ask for things. 
  6. We have some individual bags of Halloween Haribo, which are perfect trick or treat goodies, as they are single bags and it doesn't give children the opportunity to grab a handful.
  7. We also make Halloween cakes and biscuits to give to neighbours. 

Two Thrifty Tips to Boost Your Child’s School Grades

When it comes to choosing the right materials to help ensure your children achieve the high grades required for the next level of education or to enable them to get the job they need, it’s often difficult to find ways that are both effective and affordable.

Traditionally, when we thought about supplementing our children’s schoolwork, two things have sprung to mind: text books and private tutors.

In theory, revision guides are great. Whether you buy them outright or borrow them from the library, they shouldn’t cost you the earth and they’ll have all the information your child needs to succeed in the specific subject.

The problem, however, is that it’s hard enough trying to get adults to learn from a text book, let alone children. Most of us are auditory, visual and kinaesthetic learners – which doesn’t align with solitary ‘text book learning’.

At the other end of the spectrum there’s private tuition, which can of course be very effective. Unfortunately, private tuition is a privilege most families can’t afford; with prices reaching anything up to £30 per hour – perhaps more if you live in the London area.     

In addition to the cost, it isn’t always convenient to have a tutor visit your home in the evening.  Likewise, transporting your child to and from the tutor’s home can be bothersome. 

All is not lost for parents though. Here are a few thrifty (and effective) tips that can be used to supplement your child’s schooling and help give their grades a boost.  

Mobile Apps

It has been suggested that around 66% of teens now own a smartphone, allowing them to download applications on various operating systems such as Android and iOS. Their education can benefit greatly from this as there are a range of high quality educational apps available.

One of our favourites is myHomework, an app that lets the child organise their homework schedule. The BBC Bitesize range are also very good; offering assistance on many different subjects.  There are too many great educational apps to list here, but if you’re interested in finding more, check out Wired’s 5 Basic Math Apps for Kids, Mashable’s 5 Apps Your Kids will Love, or the Kerboodle GCSE maths revision app

Although some of these may be free, the majority of thoroughly developed apps will cost a few pounds. However, if it means your child engages in some maths practice or revision in their free time, the apps will certainly be worth the relatively small outlay. 

Online Tuition

An option that’s becoming increasingly popular is online tuition. It’s a similar premise to the traditional tutoring methods you’ll be familiar with, but all happens over the internet. You sign up for a course of lessons and take part with a webcam, microphone and headset. 

Your child will still be taught by qualified and experienced UK-based maths tutors, but it’ll be done in a safe, engaging environment, right in the comfort of your own home. Apart from offering an effective way of helping your child boost confidence in maths and improve grades, it’s a lot more affordable than traditional ‘one to one’ ’face to face’ tutoring, with prices around £15 per hour, as well as a GCSE pass or money back guarantee.

A sponsored post contributed by iTutorMaths – online maths tutors in the UK.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Be Thrifty, remember that Dental Treatment is free for Pregnant woman and a year after

Pregnancy plays havoc with our bodies, well it did mine.  It particularly did a number on my teeth, however, it does pay to remember that in the UK you get free dental treatment on the NHS during pregnancy and after for a year.

Vivienne Egan who writes for Ethicare Dental has some great tips on looking after your teeth during pregnancy and why pregnancy can affect your teeth.

The extra hormones firing in your body means that your gums can soften and bleed, leading to gum disease such as gingivitis, as well as tooth sensitivity and other issues which can affect both you and your baby if not addressed properly – studies are underway to find out if there is a link between gum disease and low birth weight.
So how should you look after your gums and teeth during pregnancy?
  • Have a dental check-up early in the pregnancy. Don’t stress if you need any work done, as it is safe to have fillings and other treatments during pregnancy, however consider having the work done earlier rather than later – it will be less comfortable to sit in the dentist’s chair as the pregnancy progresses! You may have heard the myth that breast milk can be affected by dental work, but it is just a myth.
  • Consider your teeth if you have sugary cravings during pregnancy! It is worthwhile carrying a toothbrush and paste with you.
  • If you are suffering from pregnancy illness, you may be very tempted to brush your teeth straight after being sick, but don’t forget that stomach acid can cause erosion to your tooth enamel, and brushing will compound this issue. Have a glass of water instead, and use some mouthwash to wash the nasty after-taste away.
  • You can take a fluoride supplement during pregnancy, as there is very little chance that it will cross the placenta or affect your baby’s growth.
With so much to think about during pregnancy, it may be easy to let your dental hygiene fall by the wayside, but it is essential that you consider your teeth and gums because they are a major way to assist your overall health and the health of your baby by maintaining good habits.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Are you a Savvy Shopper?

One of our most regular spends is on food and this is why I love mySupermarket.  If you haven't heard of mySupermarket, then let me enlighten you.

mySupermarket is a cash comparison site, plus much more.  It allows you to find top offers, compare prices and shop online all in one place from the UK major supermarkets, including Asda, Tesco and Sainsbury's.  You can save on average £17 when you use mySupermarket.

Savvy Buys


This is a fantastic new  feature, which highlights brilliant offers that will save you at least 30% on the regular price. They are marked with a green thumbs up savvy buys symbol.  Savvy Buys are items that are REALLY good value.  

Each supermarket has it's own Savvy Buys shelf, so if you are a regular shopper at one of them you can take a look and see if anything really jumps out at you.  This is a perfect thing to do as you are meal planning.  I tend to base my Sunday Dinner on which store has the best deals on meat.  It also encourages me to try different foods and meals out and I know I am not going over my budget.

The other feature that I love is the  Swap & Save function.  I have talked about cutting your supermarket bill week on week.  I am a big fan of down grading your products, so that you can reduce the weekly bill, but not reduce the amount of food you are eating.    Often downgrading doesn't mean a loss of quality, it just means a simpler package or odd sized fruit and veg.  

The Swap and Save function at mySupermarket is an even better feature which allows you to swap and save.  If they think that you can find a similar product for cheaper then will suggest it to you and also tell you how much you'll save by swapping to the cheaper option.

Monday, 15 October 2012

What being Thrifty means to me

Am I a Savvy Shopper?  I like to think so.  There was once a time when I didn't even check the bank balance before making a purchase.  When I didn't even contemplate money or not having enough of it.  But then my priorities changed and I had children.

A month or so ago, I went to an event held by Savoo to meet up with other dealpro's and I chaired a session on What Thrifty means to me.

What does thrifty mean to you?

•(of a person or their behaviour) Using money and other resources carefully and not wastefully.
•economical - frugal - sparing - saving - economic

What thrifty/savvy means to me:

•Spending wisely, using wisely and reducing waste
•Value for money
•Cost per use
•Pleasures from small things
•By planning, not just financial, but also meal plans etc as a family we reduce our waste, which has an impact on the environment
•I like to think that I am provident in providing for my children’s futures
•I want to educate my children to value money and change the culture

My fam,ily, which spurs me on to be a Savvy shopper 

We all have our own financial priorities.  As a mum to two children and a wife mine are pay the mortgage, feed the family well, pay bills, cover boys extras at school and make memories.

Single people, couples, people without children may not have the same priorities as me.

Thrifty means making good financial choices for my family.   It means thinking about what we're spending, researching what we're buying.  It means budgeting by knowing what's coming in, what's going out and if we're lucky enough to have any leftover - making the right decisions for us. Thrifty doesn't mean cheap, it means wise and good value to me anyway.

A big part of my lifestyle as a frugal and thrifty mum is weighing cost and value benefits.

Children understand the value of money less and less.  Less children are given pocket money and taught how to manage their finances.  This is what I am doing with my children.  I want to introduce them to a saving culture rather than borrowing one.

Tools that help me be a savvy shopper:

  1. Voucher code sites such as Savoo.  I make sure that I plan purchases and get the best deal I can.
  2. Cashback sites such as Quidco.  If I have to make a spend them why not get back a percentage for doing so.
  3. Price comparison sites such as My Supermarket and Moneysupermarket.  Again for any expenditure we make, we ensure that it is the best value as possible.
  4. Second hand isn't second best. I am a firm believer in going to charity shops, car boot sales and using auctions sites online.  
  5. I sell anything that we do not need.
  6. I do not impulse buy, this means meal planning, using shopping lists and always budgeting.
  7. I use a cash budgeting system, even making my own cash envelopes.
  8. I shop local.
  9. I make quarterly financial manifestos
  10. I have an annual plan, showing when utility, insurance renewals and other expenditures are due and I always look for the best deals.
  11.  I use loyalty cards to make the most of any spends that we made.  You can get four times the value when you use a Tesco card.
  12. We recycle what we can 
  13. I look after our appliances and know a good local repair man.  I research any large purchases I am going to make.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Our Dream Wood Fired Stove

The Tots100 have a fab competition running in conjunction with Rated People to win £2500 worth of home updates and this being a frugal blog, I wanted to enter in a way that would save up money year on year.  We would love solar panels, but the prize of £2500 wouldn't cover that, so we took a look at the things we could do to our home to make it more economical to run and based our entry on this.

So what would make the biggest difference for us would be an economical heating system.   We would love to have a wood burning stove in our living room.  We have a pretty open plan downstairs area and this would be a much more economical way of heating our home, rather than the central heating.

My winter dream

We live in a new home so a lot of the home improvement that you can make to improve on the efficiency of your home are already done, but I wanted to list them below:

  1. Cavity wall insulation
  2. Loft Insulation
  3. Double Glazing
  4. Installing low energy light bulbs
  5. Fitting draft excluders
  6. Line your curtains

Android Games and Gaming Apps for Smart Children

If you are blessed with a smart child, then you know how difficult it is to keep their imaginations and creativity at bound for long.  As they are quite intelligent, they quickly finish their studies, and also quickly reach the final stages of most of the video games that you brought for them.

As a matter of fact it is not always possible to go out and purchase new games at frequent intervals for them. The smartphones that are Android based can come to your rescue in this aspect. There are many games available in the Android app store that are of very good quality, suitable for smart kids, and especially to your budget. Most of these games are also free to download and can keep your smart kids happy for a long time.

Amazing games and gaming apps for bright kids:

AniWorld Lite: This is very good app for the kids aged 1 to 5 years old. This app will help your smart kid learn the different names of the animals playfully and also get a chance to make them his pet.

HomeWork: This app is meant for a bit older kids who are school going and have to complete their homework. This free app will help your smart kid keep a schedule of all his lessons, projects, and homework, and can manage his own exams and revisions. This is a great app as it is available both in your mobile and tablet, so your child can revise his lessons wherever you are and at anytime suitable for your child.

Google Sky Map: This is a very well crafted game for children who are interested in the planets, and stars. This is a free app and is a good alternative for the costly telescopes that are available in the market.

Kid Mode:Play + Learn: This is one of the most amazing games for the children aged between 1 to 8 years. This is a combination of puzzle and educational game. The children are taught some important educational matters like phonics, mathematics, logic, pronunciation, etc. but in a fun way. The best aspect of this app is that you get such an amazing app free of cost.

Fruit Ninja: This is a good game to increase the hand eye coordination of your child. This game needs a very fast reaction time from the child, thereby making him very alert. The graphics of this game are fabulous, and are a fabulous way to keep your kids entertained for a long time as these are quite an addictive game.

The advantages of allowing kids play games in gadgets:

It’s a fact that these games are good for keeping your kids occupied and entertained rather than being an idle brain and destructive. The recent researches that have been conducted by leading psychologists and neurologists have found that these games are good for increasing the hand eye coordination of your child, and also increase the alertness of the child’s brain. They have also been found to be very helpful in increasing the level of concentration and perseverance in your child.

In all android games and gaming apps are meant for today’s smart kids that make them smart and creative. If you have not considered them for your kids just get them online and make your kids smarter.

Author bio: Sachin is an online writer who writes for numerous brands and products such as Protect your bubble. The brand offers reliable insurance for gadgets which helps in lowering the risk and helps in safeguarding the expensive gadgets.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Save up to 40% on a two night hotel break over half term

QHotels have a fantastic October half-term offer  where families can save up to 40% on a two-night break (2 adults / 2 children). They have also introduced a new kid’s menu – “Quackers!” which kids can enjoy for free during October half-term.

In case you've not heard much of QHotels before – they are an independently owned hotel group with 21 individual hotels across the UK.

The Quackers’ children’s menu aims to encourage children to take an interest in food and opens up their taste buds to some mouth-watering and delicious meals. Melon with raspberry sauce and strawberry, cheddar cheese and baby spinach leaf salad are just two of the delicious starters on offer, giant salmon fish finger and fajitas encourage children to be adventurous and mixed fruit kebab and banana split are two healthy dessert options.  
Even better there are also vegetarian options and also cater for children who are gluten intolerant.

With the October half term holiday only a few weeks away QHotels is encouraging families to take an autumnal break that won’t break the bank. Families can save up to 40 per cent on a two-night stay which would be ideal for keeping the kids entertained. 

Hopefully I will be able to let you know just what the MiniMad's think of The Quackers menu as we are going to be staying at one of the 21 independently owned hotels over the half term ourselves.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Five ways in Five days

I have decided to start a weekly post, giving you 5 ways in 5 days to make changes, that hopefully will become habit over the weeks and months.

Five ways in five days to make autumn savings

  1. Do not buy a coffee on the way in to work. Have a go at making your own.
  2. Close the curtains as soon as dusk comes. Keep the warm in and the cold out.
  3. Collect seeds from any of your flowers, you can swap these with other gardeners rather than buying new next year.
  4. Learn how to make your own pastry. Home made pies are frugal as you can use leftovers and so much nicer than shop bought ones.
  5. check your car's lights, a new bulb is so much cheaper than a fine from the police for driving with a headlight out.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Ten Reasons to Maintain Your Car

Sometimes, we can't help but put off car repairs or routine maintenance. This can be due to a lack of funds, time or resources, but it can also be simply because we don't understand what a car needs to run well. In the same way we all took driving lessons before we first took the wheel, you may need a refresher in the benefits of keeping your car running well.

Keep Your Car Running Longer

A well-maintained vehicle is much more likely to meet the 10, 15 and 20 year benchmarks that we would all love to see. This is because any problems have either been prevented or simply not allowed to get worse due to not being fixed.

Maximize Your Investment

Like nearly everything else, a car's value is determined in large part by its condition, so it stands to reason that a car in good shape will be worth more in the long run than an identical model that has been neglected. Protect your investment by maintaining your vehicle.

Improved Fuel Economy

A vehicle that has regular oil changes and other maintenance runs better and more efficiently, meaning you'll spend less time at the pump each month. In this way, how you care for your vehicle has a direct impact on your wallet.

Prevention is Key

Routine maintenance like fluid top-offs and tire replacement can help prevent major car problems from ever occurring. The best way to avoid having to shell out hundreds for car repairs is to pay a little over time in the form of regular care.

Reduce Cost of Repairs

Much like the above, a small problem that is easily corrected costs less than labor-intensive repairs that could have been prevented by vehicle maintenance.

Keep Your Vehicle Roadworthy

Many states have minimum emissions or safety requirements that must be renewed every year. Keeping your car in good shape is a great way to ensure you can always meet these requirements and keep your car on the road. Failure to do so can result in hefty fines and other legal problems down the road.

Reduce the Time Your Vehicle is Off the Road

Being without a vehicle, even for a short while, can be a helpless feeling. However, most problems resulting in lengthy repairs could have been avoided with preventative maintenance. If you care for your vehicle, you are far less likely to have to rely on friends or relatives to get you or your children where they need to go.

Vehicle Parts Last Longer

We all know that there are a variety of parts on any vehicle that must be replaced. However, we can reduce the cost of these replacements when they last longer due to routine check-ups.

Increase Vehicle Safety

If your vehicle is in working shape, you're less likely to suffer a breakdown or equipment failure that could result in an accident. If you treat your car well, it will treat you well in return.

Stay Safe on the Road

Your family is the most important thing in your life, and it makes sense to protect them when you're on the road. A well-cared for vehicle is also a safer one. Your family will thank you!

This guest post was brought to you by PassSmart, the UK's best way to find a driving instructor.

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