Thursday, 25 July 2013

£5 entry to Drayton Manor on Friday 2 August if you are called George

I have been inundated with naff press releases and such associated with the birth of the new prince, but thought that this one might actually save people some money.

So if you are under 11 and are called George then you get £5 entry in to Drayton Manor on Friday 2 August.  Young Georges must provide valid proof of ID in the form of a passport, before being granted entry into the park

We adore Drayton Manor and have been a number of times.  If it great for all the family, with Thomas Land for younger children.  

Things to check before purchasing a used car

There are a lot of advantages to buying a used car.  The outlay is less than if you were purchasing new.  Also, you are not having to carry the costs of depreciation, which can be significant – the average car loses 60% of its value in the first three years of its life.   But as with every major purchase, there can also be pitfalls to buying a used vehicle.  Taking the time to run through some simple checks before you take the plunge can avoid a costly mistake.  Allianz Your Cover ( provides you with the following tips for when you are purchasing a used car:

Check your budget:  many people just look at whether they can afford the initial price of the car that they want and then find themselves shocked by on-going running costs.  If you have identified several models that you are interested in, consult some of the on-line sites such as Autocar for an estimate of fuel consumption and running costs.  Some cars are well-known to need cam-belt or clutch replacements at a certain mileage and if the car that you are interested in is approaching that number, you may be setting yourself up for a major expense in addition to the cost of the vehicle.

What do you need from your car?  Be realistic about the use that the car will be put to.  It’s no good dreaming of a natty little sports coupe if you and your partner are on the point of starting a family!  If safety is your primary concern, check the consumer magazine reports for the models that you are interested in to see which come out top.  If you are likely to do a high annual mileage, economy and longevity are likely to be your top criteria when choosing a used car.

Check the paperwork: when you contact a seller, find out if the car has a full service history. Ask them for the registration number, tax disc details and MOT number, as well as the VIN (vehicle identification number) on the registration documents so that you can check with the DVLA online vehicle enquiry service.  This will reveal any attempt to “clock” the mileage, whether the vehicle has been stolen or is an insurance write-off.

Checking over the car:  unless you are an expert, it’s a good idea to ask an experienced mechanic or one from a motoring organisation to run a thorough inspection on the car you are looking to purchase.  There are also some easy checks that you can do yourself.  Look for signs of rust or repair along the seams of bodywork and the bottom of the doors.  If the engine compartment is scrupulously clean, this may ring alarm bells – has it just been power washed to disguise signs of oil leaks?  On the other hand, if the engine is covered in oil, beware!  When you start the car up, look for a smoky exhaust and listen out for any rattles or knocks from the engine.  (This is often more evident before the oil warms up).  A test drive will give you a chance to feel whether brakes, suspension and steering feel worn, and if there is too much travel on the clutch.  Driving uphill can reveal a tired and laboring engine.

Finally, if you are buying from a dealer you might expect the price to be a little higher, but if the car comes with a few months guarantee, it could be well worth paying that little bit extra.


Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Favorite Free Printable sites for children

I am a big fan of free printables.  We use them for all sorts of things and I think they are great.

So I wanted to share with you my favorite sites at the moment and find out what yours are too.

Mr Printables is my go to site for all things printable.  It is the first place I look.  It is there attention to detail that makes their work so amazing.  The boys both love their printable weather station.  They have really thought of everything from 21 printable descriptive cards for the weather to the fact that they also give you the opportunity to print it out on A4 sized paper (perfect for the UK market).

We are also going to print out their world flag bunting for Maxi's bedroom makeover. Mr Printables thinks of everything and they have printables for crafts, learning tools and colouring too.  Plus tutorials when required.

Daily Colouring Pages is full of printables to colour.  I am a particular fan of their animal alphabet, which is a little more involved and intricate and perfect for slightly older children.

My Dairy Dairy has some brilliant paper toys.  We particularly love the cabins, they have a distinctly European feel to them and are just adorable.

Do leave me your favorite free printable sites in the comments.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Keeping summer spending under control

The summer holidays can be expensive. especially if you have day trips and outings planned.  It can be hard to say no to children who want things and easy to give in to avoid the nagging. My children are learning that I do not give in to pester power.

So I want to share with you my tips for trying to keep summer spending under control.  It does involve planning, but I think that most saving does involve planning and a little time, but they are more than worth the effort.

The ice cream van - I detest the ice cream van, it is the scourge of hot summer days.  Initially I told the boys the music was to say that it had run out of lollies!   Now I make sure I have a stock of lollies, ice cream and cones in the freezer and when they here the van I let them have one from me.  Initially they were reluctant, but when I gave them pocket money and let them make the choice between buying from the van and me, they soon realised that Mummy can make their money go further.

Picnics - I am a super fact picnic packer.  I make sure that we always take a picnic and drinks wherever we go.  We also have a flask that I put in the car for tea and coffee, along with some milk in a freezer bag.  Picnics do not always have to mean sandwiches.  We take hotdogs in a flask to make hot dogs in rolls or even take salad and cold new potatoes.  

Provide your children with pocket money and a realistic budget for days out.  I make sure the boys know how much they have to spend and once it is gone that is it.  It teaches them money management and also takes the onus off me.  My children have had pocket money since they were around five.  I am a great believer in learning to budget and to have a bank account.

Food shopping - If we are going away then I do not buy any perishable  food the week previous (other than milk and bread).  I make sure I use up all I have in the fridge, so that nothing goes to waste and also it means that we have that weeks food shopping to spend on our holiday.

It pays to remember that our children are often happier with our time than our money!

Thursday, 18 July 2013

The best Lolly moulds ever

As a mum I much prefer to give my boys home made ice lollies, however, over the years I have tried every lolly mould going.  They have all had their own flaws ranging from dripping everywhere, a nightmare to free the lolly and falling off the stick.

However, a couple of year ago I discovered these fab lolly moulds in Matalan and they have stood the test of time.  They are Spearmark Housewares Twistix Ice Lolly Makers, Pack of 4 and are great.  Easy to clean as I just put them in the dishwasher.

They are brilliant as they are individual, so take up a little space in the freezer.  Instead of pulling off the cover, you twist up the lolly, therefore, no drips and they do not tick.  You do not lose the lolly sticks as the lid becomes the base.

I do not say it lightly but they are the BEST lolly moulds ever.

We freeze all sorts of things to make lollies including:

  1. Yogurt
  2. Smoothies
  3. Squash
  4. Fresh juice
  5. Sodastream syrup mixed with water
I would love to know if you make your own lollies and what your favorite flavours are.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Finding Affordable – Family Friendly Furniture

Trying to keep your house presentable, clean and tidy can be difficult with young ones running around, and many of us don’t want to spend lots of money on nice pieces of furniture or household items that won’t survive small children. Furniture that isn’t child friendly is sadly often a waste of money. It may look chic and stylish but if it isn’t compatible with sticky hands and toys then it can prove a costly investment that will just need replacing when it gets broken or damaged. 

Many of us tend to go down the other route and buy cheap furniture that can be replaced easily. But is this really the best option when it comes to choosing furniture for a room?

Redecorating can be very stressful and expensive, it’s important to make the right decisions when buying furniture, painting and decorating, as your ultimate aim is to make them last as long as possible. Also, when choosing furniture, it is important to find the right pieces to suit your family and your lifestyle.

Here are a few tips on how to make the right decisions, and make your money go further.

Statement and graphic wallpapers are in fashion and are a great way of adding a contemporary twist to your room. But good quality wallpaper can be expensive, so why not choose just one wall as a ‘vocal point’ and paint the other walls. This way, you only have to buy a couple of rolls of paper depending on the size of your wall. Quality wallpaper will last a long time, and shouldn’t fade with sunlight or rip. Spending a little bit more on a few rolls of high quality wallpaper is worth it and can completely transform the look of your room without spending a huge amount of money.

Furniture can be tricky to choose; finding that perfect piece of furniture that everyone likes and that is hard-wearing can be time consuming and frustrating. Neutral coloured furnishings fit in with most colour schemes. If you decide to go for a neutral piece of furniture you can add coloured cushions or a throw to change the look when you get bored or fancy a change and brighten the room. Also when the time comes to repaint your room, a neutral sofa or dinning set will go with any colour scheme.

Fabric or leather sofas? It can be a tough decision. A fabric sofa can potentially show up any stains or damage, but leather – which is easy to clean and remove stains, can be very expensive. Many fabric sofas now come with a special protective coating to help prevent stains if something gets spilt on the fabric.

This Alston Valencia sofa is a fantastic example of a fabric family sofa. This simple sofa can be jazzed up with a few bright decorative cushions but the colour will fit in with any existing room design.

This beautiful Hudson leather sofa from Halo is a classic, simple design that is timeless. The neat streamlined arms and piping detail adds a stylish twist to a modern leather sofa. This family friendly sofa will look even better with age, perfect for the whole family.

If you are living in Yorkshire, this sofa is available at Rodgers of York, situated just on the outskirts of York. Sometimes the best way to save money in the long term is by spending a little more on the things you need to last a long time. Quality furniture isn’t cheap, but neither is having to buy the same low-priced items time and time again.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

My Budget Bucketlist

MoneySupermarket currently have a competition about bucket lists.  Seen as I had just done a post about our summer activity ideas, I thought I would do my summer bucket list.  This is for me and not the boys though!

My budget bucket list:

  1. MadDad is working most of the summer, so it will just be the three of us during the weeks.  He really struggles to get time off as he is super busy at this time of the year with some of his largest clients.  So my budget ideas revolve around is being together as a family.  Evening picnics after meeting him from work.  But to make things easier for me I would like to be able to have a picnic fairy who makes it and packs it for me!   I think that sometimes as a mum we get stuck in a rout trying to make out budgets make sense and get the best out of everything for everyone else.
  2. A babysitter - MadDad and I haven't had a night out since my mum died.  It would be wonderful to have a babysitter so we could have a night out together.  Nothing extravagant, maybe a walk by the beach and a meal.  We have looked for one locally, but since Mini is a nightmare to get to bed we are reluctant to put that on to someone else.
  3. Books for me!  I tend to buy lots of books for the boys and we have just received the latest stack that I ordered from the book people for summer.  I would love to have a kindle full of books for me to read and some summer sun and quiet time to read them.  

My BlowOut item

A New Sewing Machine -  The sewing machine I use is my mums and it is about 20 years old and starting to show it's age.  Especially as I am starting to make quilts and sewing more and more.  I would love to have a sewing machine that came with all the feet I needed and also had a built in needle threader (my eye site is not what it once was).  I adore my mums machine  but it is loud and it wakes the boys up if I sew on an evening.  New ones are much quieter.  I get so much pleasure from sewing, it is my special me time and relaxes me.  If I get money I usually spend it on the family and this is the one item I would spend on that would totally for me and me alone! 

Now you have my ‘Bucket List’ blog post I need to tag three bloggers to tell you theirs.  I tag Cass from Frugal Family, Becky from Family Budgeting and Becky from The AR Blog .

They have to do a blog post to Include details of one ‘budget’ and one more extravagant bucket list item. Tell us what is preventing you from doing them and what it would mean to you to complete each of these items

Monday, 15 July 2013

80 no cost or low cost summer activities

Over on The Mad House, I am trying to ensure that the boys have a #freerangesummer.  We are trying to limit screen time and focus on good old fashioned fun.

Days out etc can all add up, so I wanted to provide you all with a list of low cost or no cost activities.

If you have any more I would love to add them.  Just leave me a comment.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Of course they are not going to ban packed lunches

I really feel that some things need to be taken with a pinch of salt and this is one of those headlines.

Yes it is a headline - Government going to ban packed lunches.

But take a further look and it is just a suggestion, just someone looking at getting people to react.  And it is certainly working.

I heard a very sensible Head Teacher on the radio this morning saying that banning packed lunches just wouldn't be practical and that that the government could not get away with doing so.

Actually what has happened is a report commissioned by the government has made a recommendation based on information and research that the authors had conducted showing that packed lunches are nearly always less healthy than packed lunches.

 I know many people whose children have packed lunches for a number of reasons including Pippa's BB who has Diabetes and this make sure that Pippa is aware of his carbohydrate levels for medical reasons.  Other people chose to give their children packed lunches due to fussy eating, allergies or for financial reasons.  The fact is it is their choice and there is no way the government will remove this choice.

I also feel that there is nothing wrong is highlighting the the fact that school dinners are a good option for children at school.  That they have come on in leaps and bounds and are tasty and nutritionally balanced.

This is an example of the meals at my sons' school.,  They cost me £2 per child per day and I think they are great, as do the boys.

Not everyone's pack lunches are as balanced or appealing as Pippa's from A mothers ramblings, in fact I would say that she is very unusual in spending as much time and effort on her childrens lunches.

An example of Pippa's lunches 

So what I want to say is please do not jump to a conclusion based on a sensationalist headline in the news.  

There is nothing wrong in trying to educate parents on what consists a healthy packed lunch.  I know children who go to school with jam on white bread, a packet of crisps and a biscuit.  There is a whole generation of people who did not have home economic lessons and do not know what they should and should not put in school packed lunches.

Jamie Oliver started a revolution to improve school dinners, it is only right that packed lunches get the same attention and that they are improved too.  

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Saving cash on household essentials

Having children can be the most rewarding thing people ever do, but raising a family is not without its problems. For example, bringing youngsters up these days isn’t cheap and mums and dads can quickly start to feel the financial strain. Highlighting some of the expenses associated with having children, Aviva has revealed that many expectant parents shell out thousands even before their babies are born.

According to the firm, mums and dads-to-be spend an average of £1,370 preparing for their babies. Items like cots, clothes, pushchairs, bedding and nappies all featured on shopping lists. Commenting on the findings, Aviva’s Louise Colley said: “Every parent wants to splash out to prepare for the exciting arrival of a baby, so it’s no surprise that the costs can stack up.”

However, there are ways in which new parents can minimise their spending. For example, by being savvy when shopping for household essentials like disinfectant, they can save themselves a tidy sum.

First and foremost, it helps to buy in bulk. Anyone who has the space at home to store extra supplies should consider buying en masse. Initially, this may cost more, but over time the savings will be felt. Also, this way of shopping saves hassle because it means busy parents have to shop less often.

Another top tip for mums and dads is to squeeze every last drop from the products they buy. Whether this is washing up liquid, bleach, toothpaste or anything else, financial savings can be made. Adding a little water to soap bottles, for example, can help people to make the products stretch further.

However, one thing’s for sure: it’s not a good idea for mums and dads to compromise on home hygiene in a bid to save themselves money. Babies are particularly susceptible to a range of illnesses, so it’s important that their environments are clean.

For instance, babies and young children are especially vulnerable to bacteria that can cause food poisoning. This means it’s vital that mums and dads wash their hands well before preparing food and after touching raw meat, fish and eggs.

Kids should also be taught to wash their hands after touching pets and going to the toilet, and before they eat. Also, all surfaces need to be clean and any bowls and spoons used for feeding must be washed in hot, soapy water. Chopping boards and utensils also need to be thoroughly cleaned.

As long as parents bear tips like these in mind, they should be able to help protect the wellbeing of their new arrivals without splashing too much cash in the process.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

The Ultimate Family Holiday To Do List

Wouldn’t holidays be more fun if you could just skip straight to the part where the trip begins? Unfortunately, there’s a lot of consideration and preparation to be invested before you embark on your trip. And travelling with the entire family makes your holiday prep a bit more complicated.

Book your travel and accommodations. If you can afford a travel agent, planning your holiday is destined to be a stress-free experience. But if you’re like most families, you would rather pocket that money by making all the plans yourself. This doesn’t have to take a toll on your holiday excitement, however. Just research web sites that specialise in offering low hotel rates, cheap plane tickets and package deals when it comes to combining the two.

Check out holiday insurance. Your greatest hope is that everything about your holiday is splendid. But just in case you run into trouble, it’s a good idea to look into getting a holiday insurance plan. Insurance claims and compensation can be made for accidents, emergency healthcare and the cost of replacing damaged property while you’re away. It will only be a few pounds extra, but it could end up saving you a lot of money in the end. And even if you never need to call on your insurance agent, you’ll at least be able to enjoy your holiday with peace of mind.

Do some housekeeping. Make sure to let a family member, close friend or neighbour know that you and the family will be gone on holiday. It’s a good idea to ask someone to check the mail every other day to make sure you don’t have anyone snooping around while you’re gone. And if your holiday falls at the beginning or the end of the month, make sure you’re all paid up with the bills before embarking on your trip to avoid a household catastrophe upon your return.

Search for things to do once you get there. There are some pretty cool websites that can give you insight into the culture, attractions and foods that you’ll find while you’re on holiday. You could even put out a note on your social network pages asking for suggestions from friends who may have been where you’re going. Just make sure not to publicly publish the exact dates of your trip.

Get excited. Literally. All that’s left--err, besides the packing--is the pure joy of anticipation. Get the family together to discuss what you all hope to see and do on holiday and relish the moment. Because you’ve just tackled a massive feat--finishing off the ultimate family holiday to-do list.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Maxi's homemade card fit for a Prince or Princess

Today I asked Maxi to make a new baby card for the new royal baby and as we have been busy with the stamp kits, he decided to use some that he has been to make a unisex card.  He was very specific that we couldn't have a blue or pink card as we do not know what the new baby is yet! 

I have to say I was really proud of him as he did all the stamping, cutting out and colouring himself.  He even found some grey and white paper to make the card out of.  

We are joining in with with Adobe’s Royal Baby Card.  Adobe are attempting to reach 50,000 signatures to say congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on the birth of their baby and set a world record.

We have added our names to the card.

Our Big Night In

Staying in, is the new going out doncha know!  So when MoneySupermarket asked me to enter their big night in competition we were really up for it.

However, we are parents and have two boys aged eight and seven and nights in on our own are few and far between and to be perfectly honest we actually really enjoy the boys company at the moment (well most of the time)!

We decided to hold a movie night with the boys.  Popcorn, pizza, drinks, treats and a good family DVD.

So I made us pizza and got some lovely popcorn containers from ebay.  Along with a DVD for the evening and then some LEGO for the boys too.

I also took the opportunity to get a letter banner from The Kid Who, which is perfect for celebrations.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Great savings on The Book People at Savoo

I love books, therefore, the boys love books.  Summer holidays are nearly upon us, so it seemed like the perfect time to take a look at The Book People and stock up.

Thankfully the wonderful people at Savoo (who have fab voucher codes) has some great deals on with them at the moment.

I saved over £5 with my order and got free delivery just by checking out their Book People Voucher Codes.

It was worth taking the 2 minutes it took me to check and even better I only ordered on Wednesday and they arrived today,

PS, this isn't a sponsored post - I really did use the vouchers and save the money off my own bat! 

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Cineworld - Making Cinema Going Cheaper as a family

We do not go to the pictures (cinema) very often at all.  It can be an expensive couple of ours.

However, this summer Cineworld are offering a 20% discount on family tickets booked in advance online.  This means a saving of over £5 for us a family of four.

A family ticket also means that you are entitles to a family combo snack pack, which is 2 large soft drinks, a large popcorn and two children snack packs (popcorn, drink, fruit (or chocolate) for just £9.99, which is a saving of over 40%.

We decided to take up an offer to trial this special and went to see Despicable Me 2 at out local and I have to say we had a blast.  The seats are comfortable with extra room in front, so there is no getting up to allow people to pass and better still they are fixed so no chance of falling flat on your bum.

The boys had great fun and it was a real treat as it is something we do so infrequently.

Plus Despicable Me 2 is a great film and we all laughed our way though it.  A perfect family film.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Magpie Monday - A long wait for the right piece

I have a wishlist of things we need for the house.  If money was no object that I would go out and buy them, however, pennies are tight, so I sit and look and wait and watch for them.

Our conservatory is the playroom and had a train table in it.  It has served us well.  Children have fallen asleep on it, made jigsaws on it and of course built train tracks on it, but it was falling apart.  So I have been keeping an eye out for a nice, sturdy and large coffee table to put in its place.

I have been looking for six long months, but I spotted one on ebay.  It had no bids.  Possibly as it had a starting price of £50.  But this was for a solid oak coffee table with 2 drawers that was not a flat pack piece of furniture.

I put in a bid and was delighted to win it for that £50!


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