Showing posts with label money. Show all posts
Showing posts with label money. Show all posts

29 October 2023

Year Round Ways to Save for Christmas

We have reached the middle of October now so it is perhaps safe to start to use the C word?
  Combing the C word and the P word often strikes fear and terror into the eyes of people you talk to at this time of year, but I am going to say the words.  Christmas presents.

Christmas is a time of year that I love.  Finding the right gift for people is something that I enjoy and I take as much pleasure in locating the perfect gift (hopefully) as when it is received.  But presents take planning, not just the planning of what to buy for your loved ones, but also making sure that you can afford them and not break your budget.

With food costs and energy prices soaring in the last year(s), it is more important that ever to plan ahead for Christmas.  There are various ways that I plan for Christmas presents and making sure that I can afford to buy what I want.  So here are my tips for things that I do throughout the year:

Getting Your Cash, Back

It is something that can be easy to forget, but one thing that I do year round is use a cashback site.  As this is not a sponsored post, I won’t give you a link, but the one that I use is Topcashback.

I use this site as much as possible for my spending as well as searching out the best deals for home insurance, car insurance, vehicle insurance, travel insurance etc etc.  You can easy use it for things like food delivery, Ebay, there is much more on there that you realise and even the smaller amounts add up.  By doing this I usually manage to get £200 in my account by the end of the year.

It should be noted that you need to do this intelligently.  If you are using a discount code on the website you are buying from, then you generally will not also be given cashback.   So clothes shopping etc will generally not track for me as I usually only buy when I have a discount code that I can use.  

Keep Your Receipts

I also use a receipt scanning app where you scan in your receipts for points.  It only takes a couple of minutes to scan your receipts in for the day and by the end of the year I usually have £40-45 which can be transferred to my bank account, used as an Amazon voucher to buy gifts with etc.

Save Your Points 

One thing that most people have is a Boots card.  But there are definitely ways that you can use your Boots card intelligently in order to stack up points.  I keep an eye on the offers and try to buy in bulk when there are offers on for a few hundred points when you spend X amount.  I also buy my lunch there and all my beauty and hair products.  By the end of the year I usually have around £50 - £60 worth of points, which comes in handy for gifts and stocking fillers.

Double up on Rewards

Although this one only applies for people who are with EE, not many people seem to know about this (or use it), but EE have a rewards programme.

I have linked my current account and my credit card to the Rewards programme which gives you a percentage of what you spend.  Greggs at the moment for example gives you 10% back on what you spend there, places like Boots generally gives you 5%.

So by using this programme, I not only gain Boots points and points back on uploading my receipt (as discussed), but I also get cashback which turns into money that I can knock off my phone bill.

I have been using the rewards programme since January and I have been knocking £10 from my bill every other money, which equates to £50 - £60 per year which I save towards my Christmas shopping.

 By using the above and integratiing them into my daily life, overall by the end of the year, I have managed to save around £350, simply by making some small changes to the way that I shop and scanning receipts.

What ways do you save for Christmas throughout the year?

8 January 2019

Steps to Take to Stop Unnecessary Buying

Are you the kind of person who discovers when you get home that you’ve managed to buy another leopard print dress that is almost identical to the two you have in your wardrobe? 

If you’ve noticed that somewhere between leaving the tills and taking everything out of your bag that the buzz of purchasing new things has gone, it might be time to start reassessing your spending. Here are some ways to manage your money and start thinking carefully about saving up.

Know What you Have
Take some time to assess your current finances. Work out your incomings and outgoings and look at what you’ve been doing with your disposable income. Look through the things you have already, from the gadgets in your kitchen to the shoes in the hall and note what’s there so you don’t start buying duplicates.

If something unexpected cropped up when you look through your statements from the last six months, alter your spending habits to account for similar sudden expenses in the future. For example, any home repairs or a car breakdown that you had to pay out for.

Once you know what you’re buying, you can start thinking of how you can plan your spending. Is there any way you can forego the morning coffee or the sales at your favourite brand in order to save some money? Making some small amends to how you spend your salary can go a long way to helping you save up.

Buy Things that Last
Do you need to get the latest phone or tablet, or can you hold on to what you have for now? If you’re someone who upgrades your tech as each new version is released, it might be worth investing in gadgets that are built to last a while in order to save money.

Similarly, if you have a dress that you love too much to wear or a car that you daren’t drive, you’re losing money in the long run. This is because you’re more likely to buy a cheaper version of the dress only to throw it away or pay for public transport to save making your car messy. Invest in something that’s high-quality that you’ll use again and again.

Avoid Temptation
If you’re a sucker for a sale or you fill up your lunch breaks by scrolling through promotional emails it might be time to make some changes. Start by unsubscribing to the sites that you know you’ll be most tempted by and try to avoid big events such as the January sales or Black Friday.

Unless you’re a savvy shopper, the bargains you think you’re getting won’t add up if you’re buying things you want rather than things you need. That’s not to say you can’t treat yourself every now and then but get the practical purchases out of the way first. 

Looking for more ways to save money?  Check out SavvyInSomerset for more money saving tips!

7 March 2018

5 Tips To Sort Out Your Finances

I used to be a couple and utter scatter brain when it came to money.  If I wanted something, I usually bought it, without thinking of the consequences to my bank account, or credit rating for that matter.

This lead to credit cards, loans and ended up in a situation where I could barely keep my head above the water; but my head was buried in the sand.  After getting paid one month and realising the day after that there was barely anything left, I realised that something needed to be done.

I was getting to a stage where I needed help paying bills, my credit card bill was sky high and the dollars coming in did not match what was going out.  I managed to remedy the issue and my debts over the next few years and picked up some tips along the way which I thought I would share with you today.

Find out just how bad it is

When you realise that you had gotten yourself into a situation, everything has to come out.  Find out exactly what you owe, just how many credit cards you actually have, what you are spending your money on every month.

The first thing that I did was to look over my bank statements and credit card bills for the past six months to look at what I had been buying.  I made a chart with my justifiable expenses on one side, and the extravagances on the other.  I bet that you can guess which side had more entries.

Make A Budget

Sounds basic, but when I say make a budget, I mean for everything.  Break down every cent that is coming in and list everything that has to come out and on what date.  Make a 30 day planner and write down when bills are coming out and how much for.  If you are buying your lunches, make them instead.  STOP BUYING EXPENSIVE COFFEE SHOP COFFEES!

Be honest with your credit providers

When I realised just how much I owed to my credit card providers and loan company, I started to look at debt management companies.  Many seemed to offer the same sort of service, for a fee of course, which involved going to your credit providers and negotiating a lower monthly payment and a halt on interest.  I decided to cut out the middle man and go to them direct.

I managed to get my credit card company to freeze my account and stop any more interest going on.  I was completely honest about what I could afford and made a payment plan with them which was management.  Remember, they want their money back, what they don't want is you to stop paying completely.

I managed to make a payment arrangement with all of my debtors, with varying degrees of helpfulness from them.  But it did ease the situation and enabled me to pay them back faster and without the worry of demand letters and Court judgments.


If you are trying to pay off your debts, can you really save?  Yes, but start small.  I was given a large piggy bank styled as a fashion boots many years ago and decided to put it into action.  I only put the smallest denominations into the boot, pennies, cents etc whenever I had them in my purse.  It took around 6 months to fill the boot and I was presently surprised just how much it added up to.

I would like to say that I used the money to pay more off a bill, but I didn't.  I did use it to buy someone a birthday present so that still counts, right??

What I also tend to do is take advantage of discount opportunities and vouchers codes from places like Dealsdaddy and Dealsqueen.  There are always going to be things you need to buy at some point, so why not take advantage of a discount!


If you have been throwing your money around for the good few years, the chances are that you own more stuff that even thought.  Go through everything and be brutal.  Sell what you do not need or had forgotten that you had bought.  Stuff will only ever be stuff and does not enrich your life, or your bank account!

Finally, don't beat yourself up about it.  It does not help.

You got yourself into that situation and you will get yourself out.  It will take time, effort, concentration and a stranglehold on your finances for a while, but you will get there.

Fast forward a few years and my finances back in order and I am saving for the first holiday abroad in 8 years.   Time for a long awaited cocktail by the beach.  I think I have earned one.

*Collaborative piece

20 December 2016

Tips for Saving in 2017

We all have many New Year's resolutions that we hope will lead to a better life, but so often those goals fall to the wayside only to pop back up for another failed attempt again and again. 

Things like "Dry January" is the obvious one but let's face it: savingmore money has to be a close second. If you have health and wealth you're in pretty great shape, but the problem is that often too many people try to make huge, sudden, and massive changes and it proves to be just too much. 

So what types of small, easy, and basic tips can help to make sure you actually make your financial goals in 2017 instead of having to make the same resolutions for 2018?

#1: Plan Your Savings Goal

Without a plan, you have no chance. If you don't know how much you want to save in a year, you're not going to make that number. If that's the only number you have, you can't break down what you need as monthly and weekly goals. Choose a reasonable goal, give yourself a little bit of leeway (but not too much - like planning out 48 or 50 weeks instead of the full 52), and set up a spending and savings plan that can help you reach that.

Self discipline is much easier when you have a clear path and plan to follow.

#2: Get Rid Of Temptation

You can't be tempted if the temptation isn't there. One of the best ways to save is to have part of your check sent to an account in another bank, one which you cut up the debit card for or don't set up online banking - meaning it would take a lot of extra effort to go and raid your savings. The harder it is to do, the less likely you are to do it.

#3: Track Expenses For One Month

Two months is a little better, but one month is generally enough. This is tracking, not budgeting (though that is also a good idea). You want to see where every single penny of the money you're spending is going so you can make a realistic accounting of what your actual expenses are.

Use this to trim the fat and make small changes for big savings.  I tried this earlier this year and found to my shock just how much I was spending on my morning coffee.

#4: Set Up A Budget

This is generally best done after tracking expenses for a bit so you're not underestimating expenses or overestimating your resolve. There are plenty of resources for creating and sticking to a budget so take advantage of them!

#5: Take Advantage Of Small Adjustments

Using coupons for the first time, buying stuff during sales, or even making small adjustments like "the cheapest soda" versus "brand X at full price" are all little changes that can make life altering differences when all the savings are added up over the long term.

#6: Use Technology To Your Advantage

This could mean finding great deals online that are better than what you can get in person. This could also mean activating rewards programs for a credit card (although not using one at all is better if you can manage that) or there are even high quality saving apps that can be set up to make saving money relatively painless and much easier than using good old fashioned resolve, there are also a lot of money saving apps, aswell as finding freebie and free sample sites.

#7: Reward Your Momentum

You know what makes willpower much easier? The occasional reward. If you track your momentum so you can actually see yourself gaining on your goals then you are going to be encouraged and keep going with that. Don't completely starve yourself of fun. There's no reason for it, and that is often counter productive. Check on your progress every so often, make corrections or increases as you see fit and give yourself some small little celebration for making a goal.

Whether that is an ice cream during summer, one meal at your favourite bar, or something else entirely, you have plenty of options.

Follow these 7 tips and you will be far more likely to reach your savings goals!

*Collaboration Post

27 February 2015

Counting the Pennies

When you are on a tight budget, it is important not to just look for places where you can cut costs, but also to learn to spend intelligently.

During the Winter months all of our household bills go up. The lights go on more, the heating goes on, endless cups of tea and coffee; it all adds up. Your next energy bill arrives and the price has suddenly gone through the roof.

When appliances break down or need changing, be it a faulty kettle or that washing machine you have had for ten years now; choosing their replacement should be a decision made with not just your current cashflow in mind, but also your future bills.

These days there are so many products on the market that are energy efficient which are both good for the environment, and your pocket.

For example, the Energy Saving Trust tells us that in the UK we waste 68 million a year by overfilling our kettles. Every time you boil a full kettle, that costs you 2.5p. Applying that to a standard family household, boiling a full kettle 10 times a day, that is 22.5p. That is ₤80.00 per year, just boiling your kettle.

Whilst buying a cheap ₤10.00 kettle might look good for your purse now, if you spent ₤40.00 on an an energy efficient kettle which lets you choose exactly how much water to boil, even when it is full to brim; in the long run, that more expensive kettle is going to save you money.

This principle can be applied all around your home. Energy saving lightbulbs, draught excluders to hold heat in and save energy. Appliances like the Panasonic Washing Machines which you can find here can detect the load amount and adjust the amount of water and power needed accordingly which again saves you money.

Put all of those ideas into play and you can really start to make a saving on your energy bills, which frees up money for the more important things in life. A day out with your family, a catch up night out with a friend. In the end, it is as your grandma used to tell you:

*Published in conjunction with Panasonic

4 February 2015

Your Spending Habits

Money may not make the world go round (that would be love), but it sure does help with the journey.

There is a question that many of us face each month when it comes to money. Despite our best efforts and forward planning, a week before pay day (or even sooner if you are me) the question shouted out across the country is "Where did my money go?"

The intentions always start so well.  You write down each of your bills, when they are due, figure out how much you can spend each week and yet somehow,  it disappears.

I blame the bank account fairy.

For me it has to be make up and beauty products. You know how it goes. You wander into +Superdrug looking to buy a £1 MUA blusher because you are oh so thrifty. Somehow, you walk out £30.00 lighter with make up and products that seem absolutely essential, right up until the point when you get home and wonder what the hell you have bought.

Legal & General recently created a handy little tool, a habit cost calculator to see just how much you really do spend on those items that you forget about.   Your weekly lottery, a coffee; half of the products in Superdrug, it all adds up.

I would say that I spend approximately £50.00 a month on makeup and beauty products. Let's see what that adds up to.

So, for the price I spend each month on makeup and beauty, I could buy a new laptop, go on holiday; put money towards a festival.  An extra £600.00 pound to play with at the end of the year sounds like a great idea, although maybe lets look at something smaller to cut out.

£2.00 a week on the lottery and £3.00 for your Monday morning coffee does not sound like a lot at all when you spend it.

Even the total cost of around £260.00 a year still doesn't seem so much when you weigh it all up.

When you look at the bigger picture however, cutting out these tiny luxuries starts to make more sense.

If I cut out my Monday morning coffee and stopped buying a lottery ticket, instead putting that money away, look at what you could buy.  Over the course of 15 years that money would send you on 9 holidays or get you a car deposit.  Hell, it could even buy you a car.

How is that morning coffee looking like now?

* In collaboration with Joes Bloggers

13 June 2013

What's in your Handbag?

Monkey Supermarket are currently running a competition in order to win a Mulberry handbag and for a chance to enter, they want to see inside our handbags!  

Their home insurance expert estimates that women carry around with them on average the sum of £850.00 worth of contents within our handbag and I must confess, I was very curious to see what my total would be.

When it comes to my week day handbag, I like to cover most eventualities.  The thing about having a large bag however is that things seem to disappear into it, never to resurface until you have a clear out.

I took the opportunity of this blog post to go through the contents of my handbag and remove the excesses, including more lipsticks and glosses than I would admit!  I have never really thought about the value of the items I carry around with me so this has been an interesting experiment.

My bag is from Fiorelli and cost me £60.00 about three years ago.  It it a classic shape and style and is perfect for my day to day use as it goes with practically everything.

I have divided the contents into sections, all of which help me in my daily life and are permanent fixtures in my handbag.

Every Day Essentials

Purse - £5.00 from Primark
Cash inside - £20.00
Blackberry - £200.00
Monthly bus pass - £39.00
Face powder – approx £6.00
Powder brush - £3.00
Lip tint from MUA - £3.00
Crystal cat keyring - £5.00

If I were forced to use a smaller handbag during the week, these would be my absolute essentials.  Yes, three items are makeup, but I fail to see the point in applying it at the start of the day only to end up with a shiny nose and dull lips by the end of it.  I am a woman after all!

To Wear Off Boredom

Book - £9.99
Notebook for blog ideas - £10.00
Pen – £1.00
Apple Earphones - £25.00
Blackberry – already listed

For my daily trip to work on the bus or when I am travelling in general I like to have a variety of options to entertain me.  I always have a book with me and a notebook for jotting down blog ideas.  In addition I like to listen to music on the way to work on my phone which also obviously offers the connection to the internet and my addiction that is Twitter.

Helpful Items

Umbrella - £10.00
Dorothy Perkins Sunglasses - £7.00
Spare Blackberry battery £15.00
Blackberry charger £15.00

The three things I detest are getting caught in the rain, being caught in bright sunshine for over an hour without sunglasses and my beloved Blackberry running out of charge (hence the two options on the battery front!). 

My Fix Me Up Kit

Marc Jacobs perfume - £20.00
Benefit They’re Real Mascara - £19.50
MUA Red lip tint – already listed
Pink lipstick from No 7 - £9.00
Little Pink Tin of Lip Moisturiser - £3.00
Soap & Glory body butter - £7.50
Two different hair slides - £8.00
No 7 Slanted Tweezers - £8.00
Two hair bobbles – 50p

I always like to have a little fix me up kit in my handbag.  This works twofold in that I have the everyday items that I use to touch myself up with and also some additions such as the earrings, the mascara and the hairslides/bobbles which I can use to change up my look if I am going straight from work to a catch up with the girls.

One of my pet hates is having to lug another bag to work if you intend on going out for the evening straight after, so I have whittled my kit down to the utmost essentials that can easily and quickly take me from a day to a night time look.

If I had to chose just one item out of everything in my handbag to carry around with me it would have to be my Blackberry.  My phone is the most multi-functional item in my handbag, it would get me most things at the touch of a button and it is what I would chose in a crisis.

Taking into account the cost of the handbag and the contents, this equates to a handbag total of £509.49.  Considering that the average is £850.00 I am quietly impressed with myself!

What do you carry in your handbag?


10 April 2012

An F1 Dilemma

Unless you have been living under ground over the past few weeks, you will have read, and probably engaged in discussion regarding the Bahrain Grand Prix.

From an F1 fan point of view, I haven’t yet seen a single fan who supports the race going ahead.  Safety is more important than an F1 race and yet here we are, the Shanghai Grand Prix is almost upon us with Sakhir following the next week, and the race is still on.

It has been said that to guarantee (and you can never guarantee anything really in those circumstances) that nothing less than a complete military lockdown would ensure the safety of the teams, the drivers, the fans. 

It is only two years ago that Jenson Button was faced with men brandishing machine guns at his car on the way back to his hotel and had it not been for the quick thinking of his driver, who knows what could have happened.  That was Brazil.  The threat is far, far greater in Bahrain, anything can happen.

As I have said, so many fans have spoken out against the race going ahead, myself included.  But there, we face a quandary.  The race seems to be on.  We know it is unsafe.  We have all said that it shouldn’t happen.  But will we still watch it?

For me, the answer is I don’t know.  On the one hand my head says nothing may happen, I don’t want to miss the race.  Then there is a pause.  For if I truly believe that the race going ahead is wrong in the current circumstances, am I feeding the beast by watching?

Formula One is a circus is fuelled by money.  Open up Bernie Ecclestone and you would probably find coins running through him, not blood.  But if we watch the race, are we any better?

In other aspects of my life the answer is simple.  I abhor horse racing and believe it is barbaric, the Grand National in particular.  I will not watch and I am actively trying to encourage others not to watch and not to bet.  The Grand National is something again fuelled by money and only the power of people turning against it, not watching and not betting is going to make a difference.

With Formula One however this is just one race.  Next year things may be different and the controversy surrounding the race may be gone.  Can I watch this year, knowing lives may be on the line for the sake of sport?

The answer to this question is I don’t know.  Do you?