Thursday, 31 July 2014

Save money on days out with Nectar Points

Do you have a Nectar Card?  I do, it is so old, that every cashier comments on it when they scan it!

Between the 23rd July and the 12th of August 2014 with Nectar Summer Picks, your Nectar points could be worth double, triple or more when exchanged for Double Up & More vouchers to spend on fun-filled days out this summer.
For Example at Alton Towers your points are worth four times the standard value in Sainsbury's during Double Up & More - 1,000 points = £20.00

Stuck for ideas and inspiration with the remaining weeks of the summer stretched out before you and concerned that your budget will not stretch.

To help parents keep the kids entertained this summer and save them money in the process, Nectar has launched the Nectar Summer Picks website, a brand new resource designed to help families make the very most of the holidays. Aiming to get families away from screens and gadgets and into the great British summer, it’s packed with creative activity ideas and days out that won’t cost the earth.

Whether it’s creating your own waterslide, screening a movie in your garden, or going wild at Longleat Safari Park, Nectar Summer Picks is full of affordable ways families can enjoy the summer and use their Nectar points to help make their money go further. 

To ensure families really have a summer to remember, Nectar Summer Picks will be running prize draws until the 30th September, offering families the chance to win amazing prizes including Nectar points, PizzaExpress vouchers or a Merlin Family Pass. There are several ways to take part, from sharing your favourite Nectar ‘Summer Pick’ online or even by submitting your own ideas at 

If you are looking for more ideas then take a look at my Summer Activity List with over 1001 low cost or no cost ideas to keep kids entertained. 

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

How not to succumb to the lure of the ice cream van

It looks like summer is here and one of the ways you can tell is that tinny tune that the ice cream van makes.  When I was small my father told me that if it played a tune it meant that they had run out of ice cream and guess what............... I believed him.

As a mum that sound of the van used to fill me with dread as it is no longer inexpensive to get an ice cream for the boys from the van.  But never fear, you do not have to succumb to the van if you are well prepared.

I make sure that I have the following in my house over the summer period:

  • Ice cream cones, I like the flat bottomed ones as it means the boys can pop them down
  • Various ice creams
  • Toppings (raspberry sauce or monkeys blood as it is known in our house)
  • Sprinkles
  • Ice pops - inexpensive and as such means I can hand them out to all the boys mates
  • Ice lollies
  • Homemade ice lollies 

Teaching Kids Money Management and Value

We decided to use the ice cream van as a learning exercise for the boys and we gave them their pocket money of £2 and let them choose to spend it how ever they wanted,

It was a fantastic exercise.  They realised that they only got 2 icecreams from the van from their £2 per week, where I bought 9 cones for £2 from Lidl.

They also realised that Ice Pops are much more frugal too and also that making our own can be fun and thrifty at the same time.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

10 ways to encourage Kids to Save - A new generation of Savers

66% of 18-24 year olds are saving regularly each month.  This is fantastic new to me.  I was part of the credit generation and learned the hard way that saving was important.

On average they save just over £200 per month according to the Disposable Income Index, a report commissioned by Scottish Friendly (follow Scottish Friendly on twitter)

This got me thinking about ways to encourage my kids to become savers too and ways to encourage your kids to save.

  1. Make it visual.  This is why saving pennies in a jam jar or glass bottle is so effective.  Or have a savings chart with stars and stickers.  Children can see how much they are saving and it makes them want to save more. 
  2. Set a good example - talk about saving and how you save up and plan for important purchases.
  3. Incentivise it - Pay them interest on their savings or offer bonus when they reach a certain stage.
  4. Set a goal - give them something achievable to focus on.  This will obviously vary from child to child.
  5. Take it out of their hands.  My boys only get half of their pocket money in their hands, the rest goes straight into the bank. 
  6. Open a bank account with them and actively use it.  Make sure it is a book account, so they have to go in to a branch to pay in and take out their money.  This way they have to plan spending within banks timescales and again learn that spending is not about instant gratification.
  7. Save smaller denominations to demonstrate how every penny counts.  The boys both have a large vodka bottle that they fill with pennies and once a year they exchange it for holiday spending money.  It really adds up and Mini is always on the lookout for peoples dropped coins when we are out and about.
  8. Teach your children that buying an experience (ie a trip to  a theme park) brings much more happiness than a products (such as an ice cream).  Saving for the experience may take longer or be harder, but it makes memories and makes the experiences so much better
  9. Teach them the value of money, by using money as a maths tool.
  10. Work out how much they need to save each week to buy a special something before a certain date, and then they can see that they have some money left, but they also get buy their big item. It’s just small scale practice for when they’re adults wanting a car, house or holiday 
I would love to hear your tips for encouraging saving in children.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Handmade Happy - A free Digital Magazine for summer

Today I am sharing with you another free digital magazine, Handmade Happy.

Handmade Happy is filled with fantastic ideas to fill your summer with crafts and joy, including how to's and a super craft room tour (I love craft room tours)!

It is filled with easy makes, inspiration images and some fantastic ideas.

To see previous free magazine posts, just click here

Monday, 21 July 2014

Kids go free with CBeebies Magazine #CBeebiesMagKidsGoFree

The Kids go free offer with CBeebies Magazine is perfect timing for the summer holidays.  

It is a great offer and when you buy a CBeebies Magazine for £2.99 per issue parents can bring two kids for free to some of the countries’ best venues.

Every issue of CBeebies Magazine from the 16th July (current issue, which is out now) until the 7th October will come with two vouchers for kids to go free to a different attraction every issue with some of the most popular kids’ attractions in the country including Legoland, Chessington World of Adventures and Sealife.

The full details are:

Issue 409 (16th July) - Sealife Centres and Seal sanctuaries – Save £39 (£19.50 per ticket)
Issue 410 (30th July) - Chessington World of Adventures – Save £68 (£34 per ticket)
Issue 411 (13th Aug) – Alton Towers Resort inc. CBeebies Land – Save £86.40 (£43.20 per ticket)
Issue 412 (27th Aug) - Warwick Castle – Save £39.60 (£19.80 per ticket)
Issue 413 (10th Sept) - Legoland and Legoland Discovery Centre – Save £82.80 (£41.40 per ticket)
Issue 414 (24th Sept) – Sealife Centres and Seal sanctuaries – Save £39 (£19.50 per ticket)

When the boys were smaller CBeebies was the one magazine that we always purchased in fact we had an annual subscription for it.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Monochrome at ASDA

I took this picture of Maxi last week (yes he is wearing a hat in the middle of summer) and so many people complimented and commented on his bedding that I wanted to share it with you.  More so as it is such good value.  

Monochrome at ASDA

Monday, 14 July 2014

Free family activities over the summer

Coca cola are kicking off the summer with free events at over 70 parks in the UK.

They have teamed up with councils in Newcastle, Birmingham and the London Borough of Newham to free offer activities that range from Tai chi to Rounders and Zumba to Table Tennis.

I really do wish I lived closer to one of the areas as they arer are running a jam-packed programme called Coca Cola Zero Park Lives throughout the summer of free outdoor activities in the local parks.   They want to encourage people to have a laugh, play their favourite games and try something new. 

So bring the family, bring friends, bring the neighbours – and join the fun with Coca Cola Park Lives 

This is not a sponsored post, I just thought that it was a great way to do free stuff over the summer! 

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Encouraging kindness in children

My mum always told me "to be kinder than I needed to be" and this is something that I have lived by all these years.

When thinking about which was our favorite quote for the #HeinzPastaQuotes competition with @tots100 we decided to share this one, which is from from Aesop's Fables, specifically The Lion and The mouse by Aesop.

I want my children to be kind, to put others first and to always be kinder than necessary and I have been wondering how to encourage them to always be kind.

Show them - I hope by always demonstrating kindness when I can that they are learning by example.
Recognise their kindness - Give them praise when they are kind
Encourage them - help them be kind by providing suggestions of ways they could be kind
Discuss kindness - talk about ways that you can be kind as a family and random acts of kindness

How do you encourage kindness in your children? 

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Family Film Night on a Budget

We love family film nights.  They are fun to organise at home and pretty inexpensive.  We go all out and have popcorn, tickets and make a real night of it.

We tend to buy DVD's or Blurays as we can rewatch them and we share them with family and friends.  Make sure you have popcorn, hotdogs and drinks and straws for a fab, frugal family film night.

Make your own popcorn boxes.

This are great and stop fighting over a large bowl or bag of popcorn.

Hand out tickets for movie night

Having tickets makes the night a real event.  Plus you could award them as a reward for good behaviour

Free movie night printables

Why not make movie night a party and use these fab free printables for invites and for the food table too.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

How safe is your kitchen?

I recently blogged about Child Safety Week over at Mum in The Mad House.  It was especially relevant to me as we had a kitchen scare the previous week.

Research* suggests that more than 1 million children under 15 are treated by A&E each year following an injury in or around the home.

It reminded me that it is important to be aware of  hazards in the kitchen and to make sure that we do not become complacent no matter how old our children are.

Betta Living are also aware of the dangers lurking in the kitchen and they have a fab online test to see if you can spot them, too.

I challenged the minimads to take the Betta Living Kitchen Hazard Awareness test tonight and was really impressed that both of them got nine out of ten, which was more than my seven!

Betta Living  have also carried out a survey to find out just why so many children are falling victim to household hazards. Is there enough awareness being raised about potential dangers? Or are we simply too busy to address them? They also produced this infographic to explain the results.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Thrifty tips for visiting Center Pacs

I recently took part in a fab hangout with Tots100 on hints and tips for visiting Center Parcs.

We visited Whinfell Center Parcs earlier in the year on a budget and I wanted to share with you my hints and tips for making the most out of Center Parcs on a budget.

  1. Visit the supermarket before you go.  Even if you are planning on eating out, make sure you take basics such as salt, pepper, washing up liquid, tea towels etc. 
  2. Plan picnics so take tin foil or bags for sandwiches
  3. You can hire bikes, but you can also take your own, if so make sure you take helmets and bike locks too
  4. We only ate out once during our trip, instead choosing to eat in  the lodge.  There is also a BBQ, so take some BBQ coal with you
  5. There is a fire in the lodge, so take some fire sticks rather than buying them on site
  6. Take board games and a DVD for family nights
  7. The swimming pool is ace and including in the price of your holiday, so make the most of it.  But take with you towels and goggles and even a ball.
  8. take sports kit with you including footballs, tennis bats and balls too.  You can use the facilities if they are not booked for free with your own equipment.
  9. The play areas are ace and free too
  10. You don't get access to your lodge till 3pm, but there is nothing stopping you checking in early from 10am and using the facilities.  This is a great way to make the most out of your stay.

Friday, 4 July 2014

3 ways to save money on a family day out

We love going out for the day and we have got packing for our day out down to a fine art.  So these are the three ways that I save money on a family day out:

Pack a picnic:

It doesn't have to be a lot, but taking food makes such a difference to us and our budget.  It doesn't have to be sandwiches.  We often take pie or quiche with new potatoes or even hot dogs (in a flask) and buns.

Take a flask:

Even a couple of teas and two drinks for the boys can really add up, so we have a number of flasks that we can take out with us depending on how long we are out for.  I fill them with water and op teabags,sweetener, coffee, hot chocolate and milk in to cover all options.

Look for voucher deals and pay in advance

If you know where you are going, make sure you look online for money off deals such as kids go free or two for one. Even if you can not find any most attractions offer money off if you pay for your entrance online in advance.

I would love to know how you save money on family days out?

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Thfirty Thursday on Cold Tea and Smellie Nappies

I am delighted to be featured on Cold Tea and Smelly Nappies this week and I wanted to share with you Gina's fabulous blog and weekly Thrifty Thursday link up.

Want to know I little more about why I am thrifty and what thirty blogs I love?  Then head over to Gina#s place for a little bit of an insight in to me. 

What are your favorite money saving blogs?

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Dotcomgiftshop sale picks

Dotcomgiftshop sale picks

Dotcomgiftshop sale picks by mum-themadhouse featuring a red table cloth

With up to 70% off, now is the time to have a browse of the Dotcomgiftshop sale.  Above is my pick of the items on sale.  perfect for topping up present boxes or getting in early fro Christmas. 

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

10 Ways to save money on holiday

Holidays can be expensive if you let them.  However, there are ways to make them easier on the pocket and ways to save money whilst on holiday without making everyone miserable.

Saving money before you go on holiday

Shop the sales

If you know that you are going on holiday at a certain time of the year, then make sure you buy sun cream, sunglasses and shorts etc in the sales the previous year.  Suncream has a shelf life of over 12 months if it is unopened.

Travel Midweek

If possible travel midweek, flights and travel are much cheaper midweek than at the weekend when everyone else is travelling.

Book in advance

Book your train fare, air travel, transfers, airport parking or car hire in advance.  You will save the most this way.  

Compare prices

Make sure you compare the cost of things such as insurance, train fare, air fare etc  It pays to use price comparison sites.

Get cashback on your holiday.

Quidco are a real  favorite of mine as they allow you to claim cashback on your everyday spending such as utilities and insurance. Now they’ve taken it a step further, with all the top travel brands on board.  After you click through from Quidco to the travel agent and book your holiday, Quidco receive commission from them and pay it straight into your bank account.

Saving money whilst on holiday

Pack a picnic

Eating out all the time can really add up.  So one of the main ways that we save money on holiday.  I always take out picnic set with us and we pack a picnic, so that we can enjoy a reasonable lunch.

Take a flask

We take that picnicking one step further and take a flask, which we fill with hot water.  We always take tea bags, coffee and hot chocolate, so that all of us can enjoy a hot drink when we are out.  We have quite a few flasks and will take one that fits in the backpack and caters for all of us when we are out and about, but we also fill a large one and leave it in the car to top up the small one.  

Go Self Catering

We recently went to a caravan park for half term at short notice and we didn't have any money set aside for it, so the only way we could afford to go was to self cater.  We went to the supermarket on our way and used our menu plan, so food didn't cost any more than it would at home.

Use a prepaid credit card

After a trip to America last year, I am a huge fan of prepaid cards.  Even more when they don't charge for currency exchanges.  Not only are you safe in the knowledge that you are only spending what you have, but also that you are not going to be hot with a charge for using a foreign currency.

Be mobile phone savvy

When we were in the US I made sure that I had Data roaming turned off, so that I didn't have any unexpected bills.  I made sure that I used free wifi spots for any internet stuff I needed and for uploading images to facebook and instagram. If you know you are going to be using your phone abroad, then ring your provider before you go and arrange a suitable package.  You will save a LOT of money. 

This post is my entry into the Caxton FX #holidayplannerMums competition,
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