Thursday, 26 June 2014

Ways to save money when moving house

Moving house is expensive.  I should know, we have moved cross country twice!  So how can you save money when moving and selling your home?

Before you even look at putting your home on the market it pays to get a friend to take a look at your house and help you make sure you are presenting it as best as you can.  If you do not feel you can ask a friend then often taking photographs of each rooms allows you to see the flaws and improvements that you can make.

Choosing the right Estate Agent

One of the main ways you can save money when selling your house is to ensure that you have the right estate agent for your needs.  You can choose to sell your home yourself, use a traditional estate agent, or online estate agents.  

Once you have made your choice then make sure you negotiate your fee and your tie in length of time.  Be clear on your requirements and what your expectations of an agent are.

Solicitor or Conveyancer?

You can stay traditional and choose a local solicitor, or go for the cheaper option of online conveyancing. You need to comfortable with your choice and in the past we have done both.  Fees are again negotiable here. Haggle, and attempt to play off each one against the other to get yourself the best service at the best price

Removal Firm or Self Move?

As the majority of our moves have been across country we have used removal firms in the past and  even though our last move was just 12 miles, it worked out better value for us to use a removal firm.  Especially once we had looked at hiring a van, insurance and taking in to account all the family help we would have needed. We actually haggled and they threw in packing with the price, which with a 4 month old baby was a huge relief.

What ever you chose make sure that you are clear with your instructions and expectations.  This makes dealing with so many parties much easier. 

A Perfect Family Day Out Outfit

A Perfect Family Day Outfit

A Perfect Family Day Outfit by mum-themadhouse featuring a beach hat

A girl can dream and today I have been dreaming about what I would wear for the perfect family day out.  So this is my no expense spared outfit.

A lovely dress, as it would hide a multitude of sins, but as I am as pale as they come a big hat to stop me burning and also flat sandals in my favorite yellow, along with a handbag big enough to take all my Mum crap and also a great watch from The Watch Hut.

If money was no object what would be your perfect outfit? 

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Free Kid's workshops with Apple over the summer

Do you have tech savvy kids and live near an Apple store?

Then why not book them in to an Apple Summer camp for a three day workshop where kids ages 8 to 12 can learn to make movies or create interactive books complete with their own illustrations and sound effects. 

Each workshop ends with the Apple Summer Camp Showcase so kids can share their finished projects.

If only we lived anywhere near a store.  My boys would love this.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

World Cup Craft and Activity Round Up, plus a fab competition

Are your family enjoying the world cup as much as mine are?  The minimads are football obsessed at the best of time and next week we will be celebrating Mini's 8th Birthday with a World Cup Party on the night that England play with a brill party pack thanks to BeanBagBazaar (although I might hide that airhorn).

Would you like to win your own World Cup limited edition St George’s Flag Bazaar Bag and England themed party pack?

Well there is still time enter BeanBagBazaar's competition where one person will win a giant St George’s Flag Bazaar Bag and England themed party pack (I know my boys would love that bean bag - it is great as you can use it indoor and outdoor too as it is 100% waterproof).

I have already started our world cup soccer ball pinata.  I just have to find little football chocolates.

We will be making this fab flag bunting from Art Bar, to put up round the dining table.

I am also planning to make these England straw flags for the cups.

Plus we are going to make football bookmarks with the kids at the party.

For even more ideas, then take a look at my Pinterest board.

Follow Jen Walshaw's board World Cup 2014 crafts, learning and activities for kids on Pinterest.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Free bike workshops this Summer

Over the summer Halfords are hosting free bike workshops to show 7 to 11 year olds the basics of things to check on their bike.

Skills that kids will learn include how to fix a puncture, how to put a chain back on, how to adjust a saddle and basic bike safety.

Spaces are limited so get booking now.

Thanks to latest free stuff for the heads up

Friday, 13 June 2014

Free LEGO Building Sessions

Every month Lego stores worldwide host free build sessions for children aged between 6 and 14.  The sessions are free to attend, you don't book in advance (although each store only gets a certain amount) and best of all, the kids get to take their free Lego creations home with them.
The free build sessions usually take place after school on the first Thursday of every month, between 4pm and 6pm. 

At every session, the children are given a new model to build. This month was a  hovercraft; last month it was a helicopter.

You can see all the previous mini models on their Mini Builds page along with instructions to build your own if you do not live near a LEGO store. 
In the UK, Lego has stores at Bluewater, Brighton, Cardiff, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London Stratford, London Westfield, Manchester, Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Sheffield and WatfordClick here to see the store details. 
Thanks to

Thursday, 12 June 2014

New baby on the way? Save over £200 with Kiddicare

When I was expecting Maxi ten years ago I loved signing up for mum to be clubs and looking for the best deals.

Kiddicare have just started their Bump, Baby and You club.  

Sign up to review a 28 page voucher book with over £200 of savings  and 6 free drinks vouchers and a pregnancy guide (perkls may vary), but every little bit helps when you have a baby on the way.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Pre loved clothes - a great money saver

I am a huge fan of pre loved or second hand clothes for children and babies.  I have passed on all of the boys clothes to family and friends and wish that we had friends with older and bigger children so I could have hand me downs! 

I was recently introduced to Baby Bonbon, who are trying to make a business of selling pre loved  lightly worn baby clothes and accessories.  This is what they say about themselves: 
"Our vision is to help parents be able to afford the quality label clothes you simply can't resist at a fraction of the cost using the concept of pre-loving. All our items are second hand - we only sell items that we feel are in good condition - and will bring you all the joy of an unbearably cute designer outfit at a remarkably affordable price"
They are also going to be running events down South too.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Rattan Furniture set only £150 from Aldi

This super rattan effect furniture set will be less than £150 and on sale at Aldi from 19 June 2014.

I wish I had £150 spare as I know where I would be at 8am on Thursday 19th if that was the case.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Five Hidden Expenses that Come with Raising a Family

Learning that a new member of the family is on the way is always a happy occasion for parents. Typically, the conversation is centered on what name to choose, what color to paint the nursery and immediate needs, such as cribs, car seats, and high chairs. However, the best way to consider all of the financial costs for soon-to-be parents is to be aware of the hidden costs for a new baby instead of just the immediate financial outlays. Once the hidden costs are addressed, parents can begin to get a clearer picture of the needed family budgeting.

Medical Bills and the Family Budget

Most couples think that having health insurance covers basics like delivery and vaccines. Unfortunately, there are some policies that don't cover everything. Sometimes, only partial coverage is provided for epidurals and emergency room visits. Surveys have indicated that 39 percent of couples pay more than £600 for medical bills related to childbirth. Although co-pays are usually reasonable for doctor's visits and prescriptions, they can add up to over £60 for each doctor's visit. If a child suffers from chronic ear infections, the medical bills can put a crunch on the family budget.

Dental care for a child can also add to medical bills. Although nowadays you can research and book dentists online to compare prices and find savings, routine check-ups, braces, dental sealants, and extractions all tally up to an extra expense over the lifetime of raising a child. Many parents don't consider this hidden cost of taking care of a child. Prevention is key, though. To help with this, take a look at this kids' dentistry infographic to get an idea of what you can do from home to help your children take care of their teeth before problems arise in the future. Not only will this help them develop good dental habits, but it’ll save you spending a lot of money.

Who's Taking Care of the Baby?

Today, most couples have jobs. Parents need to consider whether or not to use childcare or for one parent to quit working and stay at home to take care of the new baby. Switching from a dual income to a single income is a tough decision for couples. A good way to decide which is financially better is to sit down and do a cost-benefit analysis. Analyze the costs of daycare and factor in the loss of career advancement opportunities. The hidden cost of the loss of career opportunities is often a factor overlooked by most parents, but it's one that needs to be considered. For some, the loss of career advancement opportunities may outweigh the high costs of daycare or hiring a nanny.

The Burden of Higher Educational Costs

The cost of higher education is one that parents cannot escape. When combined with childcare costs, the total cost is 17 percent of household expenses. In addition, college costs are expected rise anywhere from five percent to eight percent each year. Currently, it costs about £24,000 for a private four-year institution annually. In just 17 years, today's costs inflate to a hefty £270,000. To prepare for these hidden costs of child rearing, parents need to start early with a college savings plan.

Technology Costs for Kids

Although bicycles and coloring books are still a part of a child's play stash, technological devices like iPads, computers, tablets, and cell phones are a mainstay in today's world. Cell phones come with monthly usage fees, and computers can be expensive. However, these technological devices are often needed for schoolwork and communication. In addition, game consoles and touchscreens have taken over the traditional action figures and board games. Surveys indicate that more than 36 percent of kids have their own device, and that figure is expected to skyrocket in the near future. Without a doubt, today's children's toys are pricier than yesteryear's toys.

The Impact on the Food Bill

Although babies have small tummies, they can surprisingly boost the family's food bill. Formula and jarred baby food can be pricey. In addition, many new moms are too busy to prepare meals and rely on takeout or prepackaged supermarket meals.  When you're spending £18 to £24 a night on takeout, it can empty the wallet quickly.
The costs of raising a child include many hidden expenses. By taking a good look at the hidden expenses, parents can develop a more exact financial plan for parenthood. With proper planning, parents can eliminate many potential financial woes.

Further information:

Friday, 6 June 2014

Why insurance is important for families

Ok, so I know that insurance is not a scintillating topic, but it is important and hey this is a financial blog, so there!  Yes it seems like it is something you payout and never get back on,  but I for one know just how essential it is to be appropriately insured.

Since becoming a mum, we have had to claim twice on two different insurance policies, once four years ago when during a rather severe winter snowfall our conservatory roof collapsed and once when our washing machine just kept filling up with water when we were out and we returned to a kitchen flooded with water!

Drewberry Insurance know that protecting our family is important and it is hard to find enough hours in the day to research all the options available, work out what types of cover are worthwhile and get those plans set-up, so they have developed their new family insurance tool to help out.

It aims to help you understand the financial risk you face and help by providing you with suggestions for policies to help cover those risks.

It helps you think about the core areas that families typically look to protect and often include the following:
  1. Income Protection Insurance - This is about protecting the income that puts the food on the table and pays the bills.
  2. Mortgage Protection Insurance - This is about protecting the income and covering what is often our biggest investment.
  3. Family Income Benefit - This is about providing your family with an income come what may.

Based on the information you input, not only will the tool help to identify if these plans would be worthwhile for you, it will also provide some guidance on what specific policy options to select, such has how much you should cover and how long the policy should run.

Sometimes it is really hard to focus on what is important to us as a family and this tool gives you a basis to start a conversation, which I think is fantastic.

As always it is important to discuss any policies you take out and I recommend talking to an Independent Financial Adviser, which is often free.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Managing your money efficiently

Believe it or not I am married to an accountant, so money management has been drummed into me since we got married nearly 20 years ago.

Since becoming a mum and living off less money, management of what we have has become so much more important.  Having a clear view of what we have and what we don't have has been key.  In the past I have used a spreadsheet, which is clumsy and also relies on both of us updating the information.

For the last month or so I have been using Money Dashboard to get a true view of our financial accounts from one "money dashboard".

In very basic terms this gives you somewhere to consolidate all your financial information and get a clear, up to date view at any one time.

Even better you can do it on the move with the Money Dashboard App for IOS or for Android.

Is it Safe?

At first supplying all my financial information to Money Dashboard worried me, but they assured me that my money is safe as it is a read-only application, which means it cannot be used for withdrawals, payments or to transfer your funds and they use the same security practices as the world’s leading bands.  They use an extended validation security certificate with 256-bit encryption.

How it works

Money Dashboard is a central hub for managing all our financial information.  It allows you to keep an eye on account balances and keep tab on your spending, even if you are abroad.   It allows you to collate all your online bank accounts (savings, credit cards and current accounts) in a single platform, with one password needed (which is great for my password heavy life)!

How can it help me budget?

By automatically putting your spends in to groups such as household, which can then be subdivided into things like electricity, it gives you the ability to see where you are spending your money and even better than that it gives you charts (as a visual learner I like this) and graphs showing you an overview of your spending, past and present and can even predict your future spending patterns based on this.

How much does it cost?

Nothing, it is a free service and I for one think it is great. 

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Keeping your Information Safe on Line

How do we know that our sensitive information is safe online?  The truth is we don't.  We rely on companies to tell us when we need to change a password, to admit to a security leak.

What with the recent Heartbleed bug and then the issues with Ebay, I can tell you that I no longer have much faith in companies to protect my sensitive data any longer.

So for the last week I have been trialing the People's ID Bot. The People's ID Bot searches the internet for your sensitive information and let's you know if and when it finds it.

You enter your details in to it and it scans the internet looking for it and will email you if it finds any. It is a really simple concept, but really effective.

It is really simple to use and it has already found something that I would rather not be available to the public. Find out more on The Peoples Identity Project Facebook page.

The bot is free for the first 30 days and then is £3.99 a month and I have 10 free annual subscriptions (worth over £40) to give away.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, 2 June 2014

Flow Magazine - Free Digital Specials

I love Flow Magazine.  it is beautifully produced and made and is only produced in englished twice a year, so I was delighted to discover that they have been producing digital specials.  The first one was all about paper and the second one was all about Snail Mail.

They are currently offering it now for free for iPad and Android tablets in the App Store and Google Play.

To see previous free magazine posts, just click here
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