Friday, 31 May 2013

Make using Voucher Codes part of your shopping habit

Habits, they take time to instill and not all of them have to be bad.  I used to always forget to take my reusable bags with me when I go shopping, but not anymore I have made it part of my shopping habit and it means that I always have them with me (plus means I get extra loyalty points in some shops too and stops me paying out for them in others).

The same could be said about introducing searching for voucher codes before making a purchase too.  Not only do they often save me money, but they also make me ponder my purchase making sure that I do not have "buyers remorse"!

Seriously you can use voucher codes to save money on pretty much EVERYTHING from £10 off your first online shop with sainsburys to 3 months free membership at The National Trust.

You will be amazed to see the diverse range of discounts available from such a wide range of companies.  So you can see the benefit from checking them routinely before you buy anything.
What are Discount Voucher Codes?
Discount Voucher Codes are codes that you enter in at the checkout offering savings in a variety of ways including
  • percentage discounts,
  • fixed amount discount,
  • free delivery or a free gift.
It takes around 2 minutes to check for a current code and can save you money, so if you are not making voucher codes part of your shopping habit you really should start. It’s a great budgeting habit to have.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Win a XXL'MAN SIZE' Faux Leather Bean Bag for Fathers Day

I have a fab competition for you to win a  Man Sized Bean Bag just in time for Fathers Day from Bean Bag Bazaar, which is worth £69.99.

We are big fans of bean bags as they make perfect additional seating and can be popped in the garage when not in use and we are looking forward to reviewing one in Maxi's new bedroom.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

8 ways to encourage children to be frugal

One of the things that are important to me as a parenting is encouraging my children to live a frugal life and this means teaching them good money management skills.

We do this in various ways, but for me and my children I find practical examples have the biggest impact.  

Both the boys get £2 a week pocket money of us and they are allowed to spend this how they chose, however, once it is gone, it is gone. They also get money off their nana and grandad on a pretty regular basis and for birthdays too.

  1. Spontaneity doesn't pay - Sometimes when the boys hear the sound of the ice cream van they are keen to get an icecream or lolly.  But they have learned that their money doesn't go far with the van, especially during the holidays when he is here on a regular basis.  However, I encourage them to buy (or ask me to buy) value cones, ice cream and ice lollies  or even better make their own) on my weekly shop and they pay me rather than the icecream man.  
  2. Buying in bulk can save money - There is a real trend for Trash Packs and a lot of their friends get their pocket money and go to the local shop and buy one, but the boys have learned pretty quickly that they can buy more less expensively if they save up their money and but the larger packs from a shop.
  3. Look for offers - Back to trashies again.  They are £2.50 for one at the local shore or 12 for £10 from Argos, however, you can get two 12 packs for £15 from Argos.  So they now look for offers,.
  4. Pooling Money - The boys often want the same things, so they have learned to club together and share what they buy.
  5. Exchanging (money Back) - They have also learned that you can take used games back in exchange for money off new ones.
  6. Buy Secondhand - Again, they also know that second hand is not second best and they can get more for their money this way and love going to boot sales.
  7. Make money from selling  - they sell their unwanted toys online or at boot sales (with me).
  8. They also ask for a subscription to a magazine rather than buy them weekly or monthly.  
Our next money management lesson is going to be in saving and savings rates and both the boys have their own savings account.  I have wrote about encouraging children to save over a Mum in the Mad House as we want the boys to understand about pensions and saving for their futures.  Having a pension such as SIPP pension investments is such an important aspect of money management. 

Friday, 24 May 2013

Low cost simple pleasures or back to basics parenting #5 - Homemade bubbles

This weeks bubble pleasure has been brought to you because I was sent @hitofhappiness and it contained some bubble mixture in it.  

My boys adore bubbles and they didn't even get out of their school uniform, they just got hold of those bubbles and off they went! 

They spent a good hour out blowing bubbles (I did top up their mixture) and it was such fun.

You can even make your own with  1 cup water, 2 tablespoons glycerin and 4 tablespoons washing up liquid, so you never need be without bubbles! 

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Maxi's dream bedroom

Maxi has been in his current room since we moved into the house nearly seven years ago and is no longer a baby, so would love to update his bedroom.  Therefore, when I saw that  Laura Ashley and Tales of Annie Bean have set bloggers the chance of winning a room makeover me and him put our thinking cap on and sat down and designed his dream bedroom.

He wants a room that will grow up with him and is going to pass half of his bunkbed on to Mini and wants to keep his desk area too, but he would like to have his walls white and some new furniture which will last till he leaves home or longer. This is where Laura Ashley comes in, we really loved the look of the Brompton range including the the Brompton Oak Wardrobe the oak side table (which we would use as a bedside cabinet)  and the tall chest of drawers. They are classic and well made and would be perfect long term.  I am a great believer that if you have the bones of a room you can add and take away from accessories to make the change. 

He picked out all the colours himself and we have already bought the set of cable and cotton lights as a starting point.  He wants a bright multi colour theme for accessories and loves maps and all things travel too.

Maxi's dream bedroom

Rainbow Chevron Rug

Bat Ball Basket

Star Book Ledge

There isn't a lot wrong with his room at the moment, but it is dark and was put together on a shoestring and he would really like to put his own stamp on the room.

Being thrifty - it's all about happiness

The lovely Jane who many people will know as Northern Mum has had a challenging few years and made the decision to change her working pattern so that she could spend more time at home with her three children.

I know full well how hard it is to cut back on to primarily one income and "cut your cloth" accordingly, I also know that everyone wants that champagne lifestyle on a larger income.

When we made our life changing decision to come back to the North East of England, so that I could stay at home with the boys we made many a sacrifice so that it was affordable, but in todays financial climate living frugally is no longer a choice, it is a necessity.

Jane currently has a competition running on her new blog From Spending to Saving to win £400 of Amazon Vouchers in conjunction with Which Offshore and she is looking for thrifty tips and also why to have an offshore pension. For me having a pension is all about being prudent and making sure that I am responsible for me in the future and not leaving it to my children.

I have lots of specific thrifty tips throughout the blog, but for me being thrifty is all about happiness and I wanted to explain how your mental attitude can really make the difference.

 "Comparison is the thief of joy!" 

Stop looking at the Jones and wanting what they have or appear to have. I used to be very materialistic, but when I was ill I realised that I didn't need things, I needed my family and friends.  They brought me more joy than any physical item could and that we could manage anything if we did it together.   We might not have it all together, but together we have it all.

Make the most of what you have

People were happier during times of war.  They had less but made more of what they had.  This for me says everything.  I am learning to reuse, upcycle and think about what we have already.  We take a flask out with us and this saves on buying drinks.  We already have a flask, the milk, tea and sugar, so it is a much better idea for me.

Buy Experiences not things 

Being thrifty allows us to have family experiences, such as days out, more time together and family fun.  These bring us so much more joy and happiness than actual things.  I would rather take us for a day out at the beach and get fish and chips than buy myself a new pair of shoes.  I have changed the way that I think.

Stop measuring success in £'s 

Wealth is what is life after the money runs out - Roger Hamilton   Sometimes it takes hard times to make this realisation.  But it is true as soon as you stop measuring your success in terms of money and start measuring it in happiness, money becomes much less of a motivating factor.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Get a free two month Friends and Family Railcard

Thanks to Cass at Frugal Family for the heads up on this one.

Wherever you're going, take your Family & Friends Railcard with you to save on rail fares. As long as you have at least one child travelling with you, you'll qualify for Family & Friends Railcard discounts.
A Family & Friends Railcard costs just £30 per annun and you save 1/3 off adult fares, and 60% off kids’ fares on travel throughout Great Britain.  If you travel with a child between five and 15 years old then you’re eligible. 
Up to four adults and four kids can travel on one card, and they don't even need to be related. So, for what works out to around £2.50 a month, you can look forward to dramatic savings for the year.  All child fares are subject to a £1 minimum fare.
Even better you can get a two month free Friends and Family railcard with Daily Mail.  But be fast as the offer runs out at 23.59 hrs 23rd May 2013.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Save on beauty brands - Save over £50 on a Rodial Glamoxy Snake Serum Pen Light

I was sent a Rodial Glamoxy Snake Serum Pen Light to review last week.  Now I have only been using it over the weekend, but I wanted to share the following voucher code with you so you can save 68.6% (which is over £50) on one too.

Use SAVEONSERUM at the checkout to Save 68.6% Off Rodial Glamoxy Snake Serum Pen Light  10ml at

This offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other voucher code promotion or VIP discount. Valid now until Midnight GMT 24th May 2013.

FeelUnique is an online beauty store  who offer free delivery worldwide on everything!  They stock over over 18,000 products from over 550.

·         Cheaper than RRP / High street on 90% of our range
·         Wish List - Make & Send lists of your most wanted products
·         Outlet - save up to 80% Off RRP!
·         VIP club - 10% Off your favourite brand for life!

I have just placed an order for some Moroccan oil.  I swear by it to help stop the frizzes in my hair and a bottle lasts me over a year and was £30.45 delivered, so the cheapest I had seen it anywhere.

Thanks to Savoo for the heads up on the voucher code and for sending the pen for review.he pen for review.

No cost simple pleasures or back to basics parenting #3

This weeks simple pleasure is the joy I get from hearing my children laugh, giggle and shout when playing outside after school.  I love the lighter nights, so that they can play outdoors with their friends.

I am a huge fan of free range parenting and encourage my boys who are eight and nearly seven to get out and play.  Make their own fun and games within the boundaries I set.

    Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Saturday, 18 May 2013

The constant risk of liability

The constant risk of liability

No matter what kind of business you run, there is always the potential for liability. It comes in many forms, but there is no business that is truly exempt. As such, it is something you need to watch out for.

With this in mind, here's a quick rundown on liability. Whether its understanding who can claim liability, and why, or protecting yourself with the correct liability insurance for small business, the more you know will make you more prepared in the long run. Your business, as a result, will be better off for it, both legally and financially.

Who can claim liability?

First and foremost, most people can claim liability. As the owner of your business, you are responsible, as the business, for what happens. As such, members of the public can claim liability for anything that happens that they deem your fault. This isn't just limited to anything that happens within your premises, either. If something happens when your staff visit the customer's home, liability can be claimed. In short, when acting on behalf of your company, you, your staff and anything else related can come under liability if it’s your fault.

Likewise, your own employees can claim for liability. Personal injuries are perhaps the most common example of this. Again, this is because you own the business; similar to customers and other members of the public, you have a set of legal duties and requirements you must meet for your employees. Fail to meet these, and liability could be claimed.

Even if you aren't guilty, that won't stop people claiming for liability. Legal disputes such as this can often be expensive, or damage your reputation, so it always helps to avoid them where possible.

Investing in insurance

Of course, if a claim does happen, you also want to protect yourself from a financial perspective. As stated earlier, both members of the public and your own employees can claim liability. This gives you two different forms of insurance; public liability insurance and employee liability insurance.

In most cases, insurance for employee liability is a legal requirement, but that doesn't mean public liability insurance isn't a wise investment. A small price to pay up front is arguably worth not having to risk the expensive costs and fees should a liability claim occur and get out of hand. Click here for Axa liability insurance for small business. 

Friday, 17 May 2013

Walkers Hoops and Crosses Review

My boys do not have packed lunches very often, but when they do they love to have a bag of crisps.  Now I know that whole grains are really important in our diets and if I can find ways to encourage this then that makes me a happy mum.     

  • 56% whole­grain corn meal per bag.
  • 85 calo­ries per bag.
  • No artificial colours or preservatives
  • They are baked
  • Hoops and Crosses come in three flavours,  Roast Beef, Prawn Crack­ers and Salt and Vinegar
Mini was delighted with the monkey, who has been named Mack, but both the boys disliked the roast beef hoops and crosses and they remained uneaten for the best part of the day, until MadDad ate them.

He told me they were pretty much like Monster munch and he liked them.  

When I went shopping this week I got some salt and vinegar ones for the boys to try, which they both liked.  So if they need packed lunches for trips out etc then I will get these for them.  They were £1.89 for six bags or are on offer as Asda 3 bags for £4.  They are more than I would usually spend, but they eat shop bought snacks rarely, so I didn't mind.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Credit Rebuilding Tips and Advice

Having a good credit rating and history makes getting good rates on financial lending a lot easier. It all comes down to risk: if a lender considers you to be high risk, the spending limits they offer you will be low, and the APR high. While this may seem to be less attractive to many, 'bad credit' credit cards make for a great way to rebuild your credit rating if it has been tarnished in the past.

Poor credit usually results from irresponsible spending and poor financial planning. If you have missed payments in the past, or have regularly gone over your spending limit, this will negatively impact your credit history. In order to rebuild, you can use bad credit credit cards and, as long as you are sensible and cautious with your spending, you can gradually improve your credit rating without suffering too much financial strife.

These types of credit cards are also useful for those who have yet to build a credit history, or who simply have a limited one. Again, lenders who have little or nothing to go on when determining a potential customers risk will err on the side of caution. In order words, they will not qualify such individuals for their best rates. 

Specialist credit card suppliers who deal with those with poor credit histories, or no credit histories, are the best options available if you find yourself needing to build or rebuild your history. One such supplier is
aquacard, who have a select number of products, such as their advance credit card, available to help you prove that your financial issues are in the past.

This is the crux of it: proving to lenders that while you had financial difficulties in the past, and were financially irresponsible, you are now both sensible with your finances and gradually getting out of debt. Lenders can explore a great deal of information regarding your financial past by checking on your credit history. If they see that you have been improving your record over the years, you will be looked upon as a far less risky prospect. Consequently, you'll begin to qualify for better interest rates and higher limits when applying for credit cards in the future. Not only this, but you'll see better rates also with other forms of lending, such as loans, mortgages, and so on.

Using credit reference agencies like Experian and Equifax will help you determine exactly what your current rating is. If you feel that there are mistakes, these can be disputed. It is not unusual to find that there are errors on your credit rating, and when these are eliminated you'll find that your credit score improves.

Thankfully, there are a variety of credit card lenders available and it should be possible for you to get a line of credit from one of them at least. Once you do, plan the use of your card carefully, ideally using it for monthly expenses like phone bills or utilities. This will ensure that you are able to cover the balance of the card each month, helping you gradually rebuild your rating.

Flubit, what you want only cheaper

Flubit, it sounds like that bouncy little green ball that Robin Williams makes in the film Flubber, but I can assure you it isn't! 

Flubit work with you to create the best offer on the product you are after – so once you have found a product you want, you let Flubit know and they will go off and find a better price for you! 

Simply paste the link to the item on the Flubit site and you’re offer will be made!

I saved 14% on both the items that I ordered  

Yes 14% on items that I was going to buy anyway.  There are a couple of things that you need to bear in mind when it comes to using Flubit.

It isn't an instant purchase site.  You have to wait for your offer to be produced   For me it took about six hours, but then I am a great believer in making sure that you want to spend that money and really need that item.

They take postage costs into account.

All offers are unique and created in private.  

You have no obligation to buy using Flubit.

I really haven't found any issues at all with using Flubit and think it is a great service.

Flubit refunded me my purchase of the Orla Kiely tins for my redecorated kitchen, but I have already used them again! 

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Free family days out in Cornwall

There’s nothing better than a trip to Cornwall than having plenty of fun things to see and do which are absolutely free! If you’re on a budget and want to save extra pennies then look no further, we’ve got it covered.

These are just a few of the free family days out in Cornwall – to check out the rest of what’s on offer take a look at the Visit Cornwall website, and see this site to find heavily discounted last minute accommodation in Cornwall.

The Beach

Cornwall has over 200 beautiful beaches for you to choose from all with unique character and something different to boast about. A few of my all time favourites which I highly recommend are Crantock Beach, Sennen Cove and Watergate Bay. Whether it’s an afternoon of sand castle building, wave jumping or fishing in the rock pools, there is so much to do, keeping you and your family busy and happy all day long.

To make your pennies stretch further, pack up a picnic and plenty of drinking water!

Image Credit: LateLettings

Camel Trail

A visit to Cornwall wouldn’t be complete without a day at the Camel Trail. It is one of the most popular and successful recreational trails in the UK, attracting thousands of visitors every year. The old railway line running from Padstow to Bodmin offers magnificent views of stunning coastline and natural beauty along with wildlife designations that you should certainly keep your eye out for. Cycle, walk, skip or jump, whichever way suits you, bring your own bikes for a free day out, or rent some for a low price at either end of the trail.
Again, this is a perfect day to stop off for a few Cornish snacks and ice cream!

St Catherine’s Castle

Get ready for ‘I’m the king of the castle’ games at one of Cornwall’s smallest historical forts. Built in 1530 to guard Fowey Harbour by Henry VIII, St Catherine’s Castle is just one of a small handful that offers free entry to its many visitors. With spectacular views and hopefully perfect weather it would be rude not to throw down a blanket and enjoy a spot of lunch before heading over to Fowey Harbour itself just a short walk away.

For the history lovers, visit the English Heritage site for more background of St Catherine’s Castle!

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons


Heartlands is a popular free attraction in Cornwall which is sure to get the thumbs up from the kids! Here you will find a giant adventure play area, climb-on sculptures, beautiful gardens and plenty of green space for family fun and games (don’t forget your bat and ball). Unwind at the end of the day by exploring state of the art exhibitions, stunning scenery and of course our favourite, some delicious Cornish ice cream.

Take a look at the Heartlands virtual tour for more information!

Image Credit: Heartlands

The Park and open spaces

Keeping it simple, take a trip to the local park wherever you are in Cornwall. Ball games, hiking, swings, bike rides, scooters, tag, or just a stroll to enjoy the surroundings, whatever it is you will certainly get a good few hours of fun here. I highly recommend a trip to Kit Hill where you will blown away by stunning views across the whole of Cornwall just over 1000 feet high.

If you fancy something a little lower, check out Tehidy Country Park, full of sweeping woodland and natural wildlife. Tehidy is an enchanting place to visit all year round, but make sure you head to the lake.  

Image credit: Graham Alton

Monday, 13 May 2013

Magpie Monday - A globe for MIni's birthday

Mini will be seven in June, so I am on the lookout for presents for his birthday and just like his brother he is obsessed with geography.

I was delighted when passing the charity shop in the village to find a Globe Lamp.  Even better it works and had been PAT tested.

It is in great condition, so I snapped it up and have popped it away for his birthday.

I am trying not to bring a lot in to the house at the moment as we are saving up for a holiday, but also we are looking at decorating the boys rooms, so I am on the lookout for old fashioned wardrobes and drawers as they have more chance of withstanding the minimads!

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Keeping on top of the laundry

Laundry, I am sure that it breeds.  With two boys I am becoming an expert at removing stains and keeping things clean, bright and stain free and for me it is down to a routine, rather than putting an item through the wash and having to wash it again!

Keep everything in one place.

I keep all our laundry treatment preparations in one place by the washing machine.  I have pretreatments there along with different types of washing products (woolite for woolens, washing liquid, stain remover and fabric softener)

Sort your clothes

It is important to sort your clothes in to lights, darks and different fabric types.  I separate in to whites, coloured, bedding, towels and non softer clothes (such as football kits and fleeces).

Check clothes before putting in the washing machine

I make sure I go though the clothes before I load them into the machine.  Yes this seems overkill, but with two boys I find pockets full of stones!  I turn all the clothes the right way round (except from Jeans which should be washed inside out), check knees of trousers for grass stains and pretreat.  I make sure buttons are all undone too.  I fasten zips and zelcro so they do not damage any of the other clothes.

Use The right setting on your machine

It pays to take a little time to read the washer manual and use the right setting for the type of laundry you are doing.

Stain removal

I have an old fashioned bar of fairy soap that I wet and use to rub on shirt collars and cuffs before washing.

Matha Stewart has a great stain removal chart, which I keep in my laundry box.

If clothes are particularly grubby I also use a stain remover such as Ariel Stain Remover (which has been proven to double the strength of your washing liquid).

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Which Decade Had the Best Music?

I cannot be the only mum out there that is shocked at some of the music that our children listen to today.  I fear that I am turning in to my mum.  I have stopped listening to Radio One and instead have Radio Two or Radio Four on all the time.  

This means that a lot of the songs pass me by, until that is I hear the boys singing them!  One of the things that we have done is to password protect the music channels as the video's for a lot of songs are shocking today.  They really do nothing to enhance the song and the fact that the ladies wear next to nothing is not something I want my boys to think is normal.  I want them to grow up with a healthy respect for woman and it seems that certain rappers do not have any respect and set a bad example.  

It just goes to show you that things and opinions change when you have children.

My boys dancing whilst watching Glee Live

My boys have experienced a wide range of music and both have clear ideas of which are their favourites.  They love Queen, Green Day, Bruno Mars, Snow Patrol, Glee, Suede, Madness, The Wanted and Eels.

You can see that they have their own likes, but they have also picked up on a lot of our favourites too. When I was growing up my parents had pretty eclectic music tastes.  They ranged from the predictable Beatles, The Eagles and the hits of their youth to thinks like Funk and classical.  They loved going to special music themed holidays with friends and family and I remember going with them to see The Platters.  Back then I used to feel there was a real "them and us" when it came to music and that it was seriously uncool to like the same music as your parents did.

I think this stemmed from the real sea change in music and musical attitudes in the late 50's and early 60's.  Music changed so much in those days that parents listened to one thing and children to another.  I really do not think this is the case today and this is confirmed by the conversation we had with the boys at the weekend.

We had a day trip on Sunday and the radio was playing away when a The Bicycle song by Queen came on and both the boys started to sing along to the music and picked up the words really easily.   I asked MadDad when it was released and being the music font of knowledge told me it was in the late 70’s.

When I told the boys that this music was as old as Uncle Christopher they were shocked, but even now it sounded contemporary in some ways and I think that it is now really hard top tell which decade a lot of the music is from.

Plus a lot of songs have been re recorded and covered by people and it is becoming even harder to define music by decades or generations.  I think that programmes like Glee have had a lot to do with this as they use music from all decades and have introduced it to a younger generation and some of my boys favorite CD's to listen to are Glee ones and we have been known to sing along loudly to them! 

When my Dad died in 2000, we played M People at his funeral as that was his favourite band.  In fact when I think of my dad I think of M People and Elvis.  Not two musical acts you would put together, but that is the beauty of music.  It doesn't define us and we are not defined by it.                         

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