Author Archives: Lynn James

5 frugal things post 22

5 Frugal Things Post 22 – To be truthful it has been an expensive week!




5 Frugal Things Post 22

This week has been one of those weeks where a few expensive events have happened. Unavoidable expenses but all in one week. I have spent just shy of £500 on car insurance, new front tyres, school dinners and swimming lessons…eeekkk. I have tried to save money on them where I could thus giving writing material for 5 frugal things post 22!

It has also the last full week of my 30’s this week..so I have been doing some party preparation combined with money saving.

Car Costs

I finally got around to renewing the car insurance this week, I was quoted £258 as a renewal quote by Debenhams car insurance. I spent 2 hours of my life, which I will never get back (!!) trying to beat it. I checked compare the market and Topcashback (if you sign up to Topcashback clicking on this link at the mo you get £5 for free !!) compare. I even called a company recommended to me on Facebook. No one could beat it, so I stayed with the same company. But I had to pay it one go, as monthly repayments worked out to £350 for the whole year. I also had to pay it by debit card as credit card would have incurred a £6 fee. I hate car insurance time.

We also had to replace 2 front tyres. The mileage we do means not just a service every 6 months it also means new tyres…bad times. Luckily, good times, our neighbour Adam works at a garage and got us a good deal on new tyres. Still £114 out of pocket though. If you ever need a great mechanic and you live near Welwyn Garden City go to John Charles Auto.

Party Planning

40th birthday party is on 1st April. I’m not actually allowed to do that much decoration, village hall rules. But I am having balloons, for 10 sets of helium balloons from balloon company it was £40. I have ordered a helium canister and 30 balloons from Amazon for £23, DIY job. I have ribbon and weights already that I ‘might’ have borrowed from a ball I went to a few week ago….



Great Value Exercise classes

I have been eating clean this week in an effort to drop some weight I had put on for my party. I have been super motivated as I have been listening to Heather Hall’s hypnotherapy weight loss recordings that have kick-started me into weight loss focus. And it’s worked, I am so impressed that a recording from nearly two years ago still works.  I have cut sugar, red meat, dairy, gluten and alcohol this week. I have also done some exercise classes with Flex online fitness classes, see my review here. The flex classes are a subscription model where you pay just £9.99 for a month of live classes. But the first month is free!! Check it out

Mortgage renewal time

Our mortgage deal comes to an end in June and we can lock in a rate now. We are currently on a fixed two-year deal with a rate of 2.69%, our repayments are £1050 per month. I’m going to swop over to a 5-year fixed deal after a chat with my fellow money bloggers and I got some great advice from my friend Damien of the website Money to the Masses who wrote this useful post. I have secured a rate of 1.94% which will save us £90 per month. Hurrah. Pleased that we make a saving.



Cake and Coffee for Charity

My friend Marianne is running the London marathon next month. Go girl!! And today to raise money she held a cake and coffee morning at her house. She organised an amazing raffle, see the picture, getting all the prizes for free. And get this, she raised a huge £415 today. She is raising money for the National Autistic Society, if you are feeling generous here is her just giving page where she tells her story. Her son Xander has autism and she is most fabulous mum ever.

Thanks for reading my 5 Frugal Things, come back again next week, I post it every week.

I am linking up with CassEmma and Becky in this week’s ‘Five Fabulously Frugal things I’ve done this week linky.



online exercise classes

Online Exercise classes from home with Flex – Social Home Fitness

 

Online Exercise classes help with feeling Angry!

I woke up today feeling angry. Not a good place to be starting the day. The children were quiet and good this morning which helped, they obviously detected the anger. We did the school run without incidence or shouting (I only felt like crying on one occasion). Once the last child was dropped at school I needed to dispel the anger. The school run is a 1.5 mile walk but I extended it by doing a bit of power walking and I had managed to get in 5000 steps by 9:30. I came home wrote an email of everything I was angry about and sent to my friend of 30 years and life coach Becky. That helped to get the anger out of head.

Then I did an online exercise class with Lucia on Flex, the class was called ‘experience the light of yoga’. It was a lovely 30-minute session live with Lucia where we did some empowering yoga, some beautiful salutations (my favourite) and ended with a meditation session focusing on the self and acceptance. This class was absolutely what I needed to put pay to the anger and continue with my day in calm and peaceful way.

Flex Trial

I have been trialling the Flex online exercise classes for 5 weeks now. In January I made the decision to stop my Pilates classes that I attended. Despite being a fantastic class that was doing a lot of good it was costing quite a bit of money, £40 a month, plus I had childcare issues as well. My class was on a Monday morning which I loved from a ‘getting set up for the week’ point of view but it was also a time when Jack wasn’t in school so childcare was an extra stress I didn’t need.

The new exercise regime I chose was to use Flex. Flex is an online fitness subscription where you can view live classes at any point in time with access to a huge variety of classes. There is everything from relaxation yoga to strengthening to high impact training to dance & barre. There is also a fab section for pre-natal and post-natal classes.

You simply find the class you want to try, there has been one starting within 30 mins whenever I have looked. The class will pop up on screen live with the instructor. You can watch it on the laptop or on a smart internet enabled TV. I have been using my laptop.

Flexibility & Variety

The thing I love about is that you can try new online exercise classes that you might have heard about, like ‘Mash it Up’ which I tried on Tuesday in the privacy of your own home. Mash it up, by the way, is a dance class of African origin where you jump around to African inspired dance music. You can see if you enjoy it and if it has the desired impact that you wanted. So far, I have tried traditional Pilates (I stuck to what I knew to start off with!), I then tried some Pi-Yo a high impact combination of Pilates and yoga. I tried Mash It Up dance class and today I tried a yoga class.

Variety is so important in exercise so I love how you can do three classes in a week and mix it up. Or maybe Thursday just doesn’t feel like a strength and toning day and you want some relaxing yoga. You can choose whatever class you want.

Social Aspects

Flex are trying to encourage groups of friends to join up together and do classes at the same time, so there is a strong social presence on the website where you can share your planned classes on social media with your friends so they know what you are up to. You can invite your friends to join in with the same class. You can also chat to the instructor during the class or afterwards. I just sent Lucia a message to say thank you for the yoga class, and got a speedy reply.

Perfect for busy, time poor people

This is a perfect solution in our busy lives to fit in exercise and well-being. We all know that we need to exercise to keep ourselves healthy and this makes it so convenient for you. Just switch on the laptop, find a class, do the class and you are done. No getting the gym or village hall. You can try so many different classes that you are never going to get bored as you might do with a fitness DVD.

Free 1 month Trial offer

The first month of Flex is FREE, hurrah. There is commitment free trial where you don’t even have to put in your credit card details. This will give you a great chance to explore and work out what you want to do and when. They have a program to help you plan your classes as well where you put in your exercise preferences and time preferences, this will give you a suggested exercise plan. After the first month, your trial will end and you can opt to sign up for the subscription which is just £9.99 per month.

Sign up here now for your free trial.

I received a years subscription of Flex in return for this post.

complain-to-bt

How to Complain to BT and cancel your contract with no penalty




How to Complain to BT and cancel your contract with no penalty

I treat my broadband and phone like any other annual bill that gets reviewed each year. I mostly swop service providers each year to make the most of rather generous new customer offers and high cash back available when I click through via TopCashBack.

Last year I swopped over from EE to BT. They were reasonably priced for landline and broadband and I received £120 cashback.

Problems from Day 1

The problems started pretty much from day 1 when the transfer over from EE to BT failed on 2 separate occasions. The switch was due to happen in July and ended up being completed in September. I made a complaint at this point as I had to spend hours on the phone sorting out the issues, I won’t bore you with the story, but I was passed from department to department, had to explain my story multiple times. Eventually I got a resolution and received some compensation of around £50 for the inconvenience.

I spent the next year using BT broadband. I was never particularly happy as the broadband speed was very slow and often sporadically stopped working. Whenever I called to complain they assured me that all was fine with my line. I knew that I would be leaving this company at the end of my 12 months as I had had enough of mistakes and poor levels of customer service

Contract Issues

What I hadn’t quite appreciated through not reading the T’s and C’s properly when I signed up was that I had signed up to a 12-month phone contract and an 18-month broadband contract. Sneakily done there BT.
complain-to-bt

THIS IS ME PULLING MY HAIR OUT!




When its came to month 13 I was tied in and had to revert to standard monthly landline billing of £20ish per month. I was raging at this point that they had tricked me into a contract that was mismatched. So, I asked to leave. I was told the cancellation fee as I was still in broadband contract was £180!!

I was not going to accept this and by this point I wanted out. I was not going to pay a penny more to BT for anything with the terrible customer service, shoddy slow product, high prices and sneaky customer lock in tactics.

Complain to BT

I complained and complained and complained until the compliant was escalated. Eventually I was passed through the customer resolutions department. Tip 1 ask to be put straight through to here if your complaint warrants it. I was appointed my own complaints person who listened to my troubles of the past year and agreed that my issues were a huge concern and none of them should have happened.




This one lovely man agreed for my contract to be ended with no penalty payable thus allowing me to swop everything over to Sky instead.

Moving to Sky

I am now paying the same price with Sky as I was with BT, but have fibre broadband with speeds of maybe 10 times what I was getting with BT. I did also get £80 of cashback as I processed the broadband transaction through TopCashBack.

Sky is not perfect, I hate the amount that we pay each month for Landline, Broadband and TV, we have sky sports being the big expense. But it works, and on the odd occasion when I do have a problem their customer service has always been first rate.

Don’t accept the terrible customer service from BT and give up if you have an issue. Escalate to the customer resolutions department and ask and ask again for compensation if things have gone wrong. As a final goodbye, they gave me a £40 credit to my bank account to say sorry.

Have you had issues with BT, how did you get a resolution?



Why you should consider investing in stocks and shares.

Why you should consider investing in stocks and shares to make you money

A post by Rebecca Megson

When my hubby said he was taking out a £5,000 loan in order to buy some shares I have to say I honestly thought he had gone mad!

Such a move felt a lot like gambling, with to my mind the very real possibility of him losing all the money and yet still having to pay back a loan on a monthly basis.

In actual fact since he made the investment – in a single oil company, having done some pretty straightforward research online and with a view to this being a five-year investment (in line with the loan) – he has seen his shares steadily increase in value.

Now it’s really important to state upfront that investing in stocks and shares is fundamentally risky. This after all is why the returns on your investment are likely to be higher and therefore more interesting.

The Maths

But what sold my husband’s plan to me was, unsurprisingly, the maths.

In the same way that it’s pretty impossible to make any money in savings accounts at the moment, the flip side is that interest rates on loans are pretty low.

So his £5,000 loan has an interest rate of 3.8%, meaning that by the time the loan expires he will have repaid a total of £5580 (including fees).

In contrast he purchased £5,000 worth of shares and, on the basis of the research he’s done into the market, anticipates that over a five year period the share price should reach £7500 at worst and £25,000 at best (come on oil price!!!).

At worst that’s an earning of 50% on the initial outlay (39% more than he’s paying in interest on the loan) and at best it could be as much as 400%.

Tracking The Progress of the Shares

My husband tracks the daily progress of his shares via the Google finance app and keeps on top of news and information about both the company and the oil market in general. This might sound like a lot of work but it takes about the same amount of time as checking in on the latest football news.

He monitors in this way to ensure that the value of his shares doesn’t go below the amount he owes. If it looks like it’s going to he can cash his shares in, pay his trading fees, pay the loan back early and, importantly, STILL break even.

Inverse Savings Account

In a funny way on this basis the loan acts as a kind of inverse savings account. It’s really easy when you’re faced with a tight month to stop the monthly payment into your savings account, or worse still dip into it ‘just this once’. But because he has to pay the loan company back that money is definitely set aside. And so long as the oil price does continue to rise in the long run by 2021 there’ll be a chunk of money that we can play with.

Now in terms of practicalities, it definitely does take some research and there is no guarantee that the investment will pay out but at least he does have checks and breaks in place to avoid or at least reduce any potential losses.

For me, this really shows that trading on the financial markets is actually opening up to people outside of the City and that it really can be something that you can get involved in as a pastime.

There are actually an increasing number of ways to do it, some more and some less risky than this approach.

Online Trading Platforms

One alternative would be to get an account with an online platform such as eToro. These platforms are really interesting because they work much more like social media accounts so you can chat with other ‘traders’ and learn from them.

Moreover you can copy the entire portfolio of a successful trader, such as Jaynemesis, and trade in exactly the same way they do. This could be particularly useful if you didn’t want to spend as much time and energy on the research side of things.

Each trader on the platform has a profile that you can view which includes information including how successful their investments have been in terms of return so you have some degree of surety on the likelihood of success for you in copying them.

Other options, that are less risky again include investing in an index fund tracker like the FTSE all-share index, investing in government bonds, or investing in gold (a commodity even traders tend to turn to when things seem precarious in the financial markets!). The return on your investment tends to  reduce in line with the decrease in risk of course!

It’s certainly an interesting space and one to watch….

This is a collaborative post.

Save Money on Designer Luxury – Watches, handbags & Jewellery

Save Money on Designer Luxury Goods

My website is all about saving money. I will always look for ways to save on every day expenses like food shopping, energy bills or car insurance. Then with those savings I like to spend them on something special. That might be a holiday or a nice meal or a designer handbag. In just 3 weeks’ time we jet off to Las Vegas for a holiday to celebrate my 40th birthday one those lovely treats we have saved up for. I have also written a wish list for my 40th birthday, 40 things to do before turning 40 which included, maybe, the purchase of another Prada handbag. How I would love to save some money on the purchase of a handbag.

Well now you can! I have discovered a website where you can buy fabulous pre-owned designer bags, watches, jewellery and art. Meaning you can make a saving on your desired luxury good compared to the prices from the shop where you buy brand new.

Handbags

There are currently around 90 bags available from Louis Vuitton to Hermes and to Prada. Although just the one Prada available and it’s not really to my taste or budget, still very pricey! I love browsing through to see what is available and what I might like to dream about owning. I have a thing for handbags being an owner of Dior (see the featured image!), Prada and Louis Vuitton bags.

Watches

There are also watches for sale with so many brands available at great prices. Why not find the watch you wanted in a jewellers then see if it’s available here? 0% finance is also available on purchases. There is a large selection of Rolex and Cartier in particular with all the other brands with lots of models available, Brietling, Tag and Omega.

Hubby has been keen on getting a watch for years now. He wanted one as a wedding gift thinking that it wasn’t very fair that I got the engagement ring and he got nothing. He still hasn’t got a watch yet though!

Jewellery

The jewellery on offer is pure luxury diamonds, emeralds, platinum and gold. The photos are stunning, it worth taking a look.

Sell your luxury goods

The website also offers a service where they can sell your luxury goods for you. I am currently thinking about selling a few designer handbags, in fact the Christian Dior bag featured is one I am looking to sell, so am interested to see if they can sell my bags for me for a nice amount. I would like to see how it compares to eBay where I would have sold before discovering this site.

As with all big purchases make sure you can afford them before making the purchase. This is a collaborative post.

How to Bake Chocolate Easter cake using Aldi ingredients




How to Bake Chocolate Easter Cake

Josh, my middle son and I love to bake. If we have a spare couple of hours on a Saturday or a Sunday afternoon we will often make a marble cake or knock up a chocolate cake. It’s such a lovely activity to do with your children and Josh really enjoys it. I love that it is something creative we can do together.

This weekend we attempted a twist on a cake we have made before. We turned it into a Chocolate Easter cake by adding chocolate eggs into the cake and mini egg for decoration!

All of the cake ingredients were from Aldi and its worked out at just 39p per slice. A bargain cake so I have included ingredients costings for you too.

Moist Chocolate cake with Easter Eggs

This is a tried and tested chocolate cake recipe that is simple to make and tastes lovely. It is moist and fudgy and keeps for 5 days in an air tight container. It is loosely based upon a recipe that I found in BBC Good Food that I have adjusted over time.

Cake Ingredients

  • 225g/8oz plain flour Aldi price 45p for 1.5kg = 7p
  • 350g/12½oz caster sugar 99p for 1kg = 35p
  • 85g/3oz cocoa powder 1.69 for 250g = 57p
  • 1½ tsp baking powder 69 for 160g = 3p
  • 1½ tsp bicarbinate of soda 69p for 200g = 3p
  • 2 free-range eggs 12 eggs for £1.75 = 29p
  • 250ml/9fl oz milk 6 pints £1.45 = 11p
  • 125ml/4½fl oz vegetable oil £1.09 for 1 ltr = 14p
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract 75p for 38ml = 20p
  • 225ml/9fl oz boiling water
  • Mixed Mini Eggs 1 packet = £1.49




Cake Topping

  • Melted milk chocolate 200g = 85p
  • Mini Choc Eggs 1 Packet 65p

I have quoted prices for the items to buy from Aldi and then price per measurement for cake. All prices are correct as of 20th March 2017.

The total cost of the cake is £4.78. It’s a big cake, making 12 slices so I make it 39p per slice.

The cake in the picture and video is actually topped with dark chocolate and double cream but it wasn’t that nice, too bitter. So I would actually use melted milk chocolate instead.

If you want to use the dark chocolate frosting you melt 100g of dark chocolate in with 100ml of double cream and you leave it to cool for an hour so then spread on top of the cake.

Method

  • Preheat oven to 180 or gas mark 4, and butter two 20cm cake tins. Or just the one if you only have one like me, bake one cake then bake the other using the same tin.
  • Add all the ingredients except the water into a big bowl and mix up.
  • Then add the hot water bit by bit and mix in.
  • Add half the mixture to the cake tin and plop in half the bag of mixed mini eggs.
  • Bake for 35 minutes.
  • Stick in a skewer to check it come out clean and your cake is ready
  • Leave the cakes to cool and place one on top of the other.
  • Once the cakes are cool add the melted chocolate on top and decorate with the mini chocolate eggs.

Josh and I filmed this video to show you how we made it.

 

Disclaimer – I received vouchers from Aldi in return for this post



5 Frugal Things post 21 – Shoes, Pastry and Pocket money




5 Frugal Things post 21

It really felt like Spring has begun this week. I wore my new patent flats one day this week, wore my sunglasses for 3 days and the boys have had fun playing out the front of our house on their bikes and scooters with the neighbours children.

Here are my 5 frugal things post 21.

Birthday planning 12 days and counting until the big 40

I’ve done a frugal thing and a non-frugal thing here. I am having a party and I checked the booking this week. The hire of the hall was costing £220 as I had booked a large hall and side room. I spoke to clerk and cancelled the side room, we don’t need another room to clear up at midnight! That saved me £50.

However I bought 2 dresses from an American website thinking they would be perfect party dresses. They were cheap and I should have know they wouldn’t be right for a 40th birthday party. They arrived and yes they are unsuitable and fitted badly and look cheap. £40 wasted!

Boots 3for2 Offers

I love a 3 for 2 offer and took full advantage this week on a gift for a friend who has just had a baby. I chose a gift for mummy rather than gift for baby. I was looking at the gift bags filled with Ted Baker goodies but the bottles were actually quite small. Instead I went for full sized Ted Baker bath foam, shower gel and body cream which cost £22 rather than £30 on the 3 for 2 offer. Popped them in a pretty bag (I always keep gift bags;-)) and gift was sorted.



Bargain shoes

I appear to have turned into a creature of habit. I love the flat pumps from Next and buy a new pair every year, well this is the third year running. They look wicked with a pair of jeans and are super comfy once you’ve worn them in a bit. Last year I had a nice pair of bright orange ones, but they didn’t have those this year so I went for black patent. They cost £25 which I think is a bargain for nice shoes that you wear a lot and they don’t get smelly. Here is a picture from Instagram as handily there was a competition on Instagram, post a pic of your #nextshoefie to win shoes for a year! Thanks for the prompt Super Lucky Di Coke

New shoes. Patent leather summer flats to match Trev the kit/cat #nextshoefie

A post shared by Lynn James (@mrsmummypennyuk) on

Go Henry pocket money cards for the boys

I have been thinking about pocket money for the boys for a while and have been looking into the many ways that it can be done. I thought I would give Go Henry a try to see what it teaches them and how they react to having pocket money. Its feels awfully grown up for them to have a pre-paid Visa card that can be used in shops and at the cash machine. I have a parent account which I keep topped up, and I chose what to transfer into their accounts each week. I’ve gone for £5 at the moment. This is only for Dylan and Josh at the moment who are 9 and 7. If you are interested in finding out more take a look here.



Great use of leftovers

On Monday I made a pie!! I was so pleased with myself I made pastry from scratch and filled the pie with the left over veg from the Sunday roast and some left over chicken I had frozen for another time! It was super yummy, even the boys loved it. And I felt most proud of myself. I made a youtube video of the process!

I’m linking up with CassEmma and Becky in this week’s ‘Five Fabulously Frugal things I’ve done this week linky.

How to Write a Book and Self-Publish in 3 months




How to Write a book and Self Publish in 3 months

I know it’s quite a statement but I am not exaggerating I co-authored a book with Emma Bradley, we edited and self-published in 3 months.

Here is how we did it

The SHOMO Awards Sept 2016

Back in September 2016 I attended the annual UK Money Blogger Awards, exciting times as I was nominated for a few awards. I met fellow blogger Emma Bradley there and we got on like a house on fire in the social bits. Part of the day was a big discussion on blogger rates of pay, Emma was on the expert panel and I was a rather vocal member of the audience. Quite a discussion transpired with many a differing view in the audience and the words were uttered ‘someone should write a book about this’. The idea was sparked. The very following day Emma messaged me and asked ‘did I want to write a book?’. It took me about 30 seconds to respond back with a big fat YES.

The planning stage

We met soon afterwards for a ‘bashing heads, go-no go’ planning session. In the meantime, we did our research. I spoke to Tom Church of the website Latestdeals and to Di Coke of SuperLuckyme who had both written books, to ascertain the commercials and process. They were most helpful with time and information and helped to make the go, no go decision.

We came up with 18 chapters and picked the ones we were most comfortable with writing, taking 9 each. I worked on a time plan and the commercials. At this point it was late Sept and we wanted to have the book out by 1st Dec for the Christmas sales period. It was going to be tough and mucho work but we knew we could do it.

The writing

The first job was to brain dump the chapters, and we reviewed each other’s brain dumps adding ideas to each other’s work. We then got to it and started writing. We stuck to the time plan regimentally with weekly google hangout meetings and chatting all the time on messenger. The best thing about co-authoring a book is that you get into competition with each other. Emma would message me telling me she had written a whole chapter and 3000 words..so the next day I would do the same. We had originally planned to take the October half term holiday as a week off but we ended up using it to finish the writing stage. The 18 chapters were done by the end of October.

The Proofreading

Firstly, we proof read the book, let me tell you how dull this task becomes and brain numbing as we ended up with about 14 different versions of proofs! The first proof was the hardest as we picked up all the inconsistencies between our writing styles. We had set rules at the beginning things like writing in the first person but there were things we had missed. For example, Emma used a double space after a full stop when I used just the one!!




We then passed the book to a good attention to detail friend Emma Wright who proof read the book for consistency, spelling, does it make sense’ kind of thing. We made these changes then passed it onto 8 different people for more proof reading, thank you to Faith Archer of Much More with Less in particular who spent so much time giving us advice and revisions.

After all changes were made, we did a final read through, made plenty more changes and we had a final draft.

Self-Publication

We had decided after advice to go with the self-publication route. Mainly due to time as we wanted to write the book and get it out there. Here are the pros and cons in my view.

Pros of Self-Publishing

  • You have more control
  • You take a bigger cut of sale proceeds
  • The rights to your book are yours
  • Speed to market is super quick
  • Self-publishing is mega easy with create space

Cons of Self-Publishing

  • You pay for all costs yourself, promotional costs, book stock, design costs, website costs, proof costs
  • All PR and sales is your responsibility and this is the hard bit
  • You do a lot of proofing yourself. Publisher would do that for you

Pros of Publishing

  • You might get an advance payment, normally split 3 ways, on agreement of book, submission of first draft, final draft agreed.
  • If your book is highlighted by your publishers as a star you will get good PR by experts
  • Prestige of being a published author

Cons of Publishing

  • Much smaller cut of the sale prices comes your way and not until the advance had been recouped.
  • Loss of control
  • Ownership of book is the publishers

 Costs of Self-Publishing

  • We set up a website to sell the book from as well as selling through Amazon. There are paperback and eBook versions.
  • We have bought some stock of the book to process the website orders. Packaging and postage.
  • A designer to design the front cover of book (how good does this book look!!)
  • Photography costs for the front cover
  • Proofing costs
  • PR costs, much can fall into here, competitions, travel to events.




As you can see from these costs they can be as big or as little as you want, we pulled in a lot of favours so we didn’t spend much. Except the purchase of stock, we did invest a fair amount there. But you don’t have to do this, you could just publish via create space which is print on demand.

Promotion and sale of the book

I’ll leave you hanging on that one and will save it for another post…as let me tell you..it’s hard. It’s incredibly difficult to get someone to part with their hard-earned cash and buy a book!

There you have it how to write a book and self-publish in less than 3 months. We met on 10th Sept and the book was available on Amazon on 21st Nov!!

The book is available here, go on you know you want to buy a copy. Do you dream of writing a book? Can you do it?

Top tips to Achieve Your Financial Goals with a Side Hustle




Achieve Your Goals with a Side Hustle

Today its guest post time from Francesca Mason who write at From Pennies to Pounds.

Many of us have goals in life, whether that be short-term goals, or long term goals, and most of them tend to tie in with needing money to achieve them. When we are not managing our money to the best of our ability, or we are living month to month through no fault of our own, it can be easy to let our goals fall to the bottom of our ‘must do list’ and not achieve them.

 

My Goal

For example, my big goal for what feels like a very long time has been to pay off all my debt. Because I was on a low income, I felt that I would never have the additional money available to pay off more than the minimum balance each month. It’s easy to feel like this because there always seems to be extra expenses that pop up that must be paid immediately, so you are not left with much money to put towards your dreams.

I work two part time jobs (that fit around my daughter so that I don’t have to pay childcare), and I use the pay from these for two different things.

  • First job = bills
  • Second job = debt payment




I use the money from one job for my bills, and the money from the second job for my debt payment. I do not touch the money from my second job at all – and whilst this can be a little bit frustrating because it can feel like you are working for nothing, seeing the debt balance go down is all the motivation that I need!

My debt is due to be paid off at the end of April 2017, which means that I have been creating new goals to work on once my debt is paid off. I felt like I couldn’t do this until all my debt was gone, because that was the most important thing to do – so that I could start on a clean slate.

Create goals for yourself

As mentioned, I believe that goals are very important, and push us to being the best version of ourselves that we can be. They can be small, or big goals – whatever is important to you, is important enough to make a plan about. Examples could be:

  • Pay for driving lessons
  • Save up for buying a car
  • Save up for a house deposit
  • Book an amazing holiday
  • Save for retirement
  • Build a conservatory
  • Wedding fund

These are of course, examples, but they are common ones that I hear often from my friends. What do you really want to achieve?

Work out how much you will need to earn to achieve your goal

This one should be straightforward, depending on what your aim is. For example, if you are saving up for a car, it could be something like £3000 that you want to save up.
Do some research, look at what price you think it would be and be realistic – I would recommend always over-budgeting so that you are not short-changed.

Start a side hustle that will pay for your goal

A side hustle is a way of earning money on the side of your usual job. There are lots of great ideas for side hustles, and please don’t dismiss the idea, because they have been life changing for me, and many others who have started side hustling.
I am a big fan of allocating different income streams to different things that you need to pay for, because it makes things much easier and less stressful. Earning extra money has enabled me to pay off lots of debt without having to dip into the money that I need for bills. Here are some ideas of things that you could do:

  • Blogging!
    Blogging is one of my favourite ways to earn extra money, because it doesn’t feel like work. It’s a lot of fun, and a great creative outlet. The blogging community is very welcoming and can help push you to achieve great things. It is of course, hard work if you want to do well. Blogging has a low startup cost, and there are more and more people starting blogs.
  • Dog Boarding.



    This is another side hustle that I do, and love. There are no startup costs involved, and it is again, something that doesn’t feel like work.
I am with a website who bring the clients to you and they also provide the insurance which is why they take a 15% cut, but in my opinion, it is worth it. I had no clue where to start when I began this, but the whole process is very simple.
You could do this full time if you are a stay at home parent (you can check all dogs are good with children before booking) or you could do on weekends only – many people go away just for a weekend and need their dog looking after.
  • Re-selling.
    This is a side hustle which has started to explode this year; mainly because everyone is doing so well with it! The aim of re-selling is to purchase an item for a low price from somewhere like a car boot sale or charity shop, and then flip onto eBay or Amazon for a much higher price.
If you have a lot of money to invest in the beginning you will obviously see a profit quicker, but it is still possible to build up slowly even if you don’t have a lot of money to start out with.
  • Delivery service.
    Ask in your local takeaway if they need a delivery driver – most do! This is something that you could do during the week or perhaps just on weekends. Places like Gumtree are also great for finding delivery jobs.
  • Etsy Seller.
    This is another side hustle which has been booming in recent years, and I see many mum friends doing this. If you are crafty – or even if you’re not – check out Etsy. It is a great selling platform where people sell all manner of things such as jewellery, printable art, baby clothes and more.

There are tons of other side hustle ideas out there, but I do hope that you will give one of the above a try, because they are so much fun!

Do you have a goal and how much do you need to save for it? Could you dedicate an income stream to it?

Read more from Fran at her website and here are her social media links, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.



5 Frugal Things Post 20 – Free train tickets, chocolate cake and a dress



5 Frugal Things post 20

I’ve had a lovely busy weekend which actually started on Friday where I took the day off and headed over to Essex to spend the afternoon with my uni best mate Gem. It was her 40th birthday celebration on Friday night. Saturday night was back in Knebworth for a charity school ball. I’m a tad late in posting my 5 frugal things post 20 but have lots of pics to share from 2 big nights out.

Free Train tickets

I booked my train ticket from Knebworth to Chelmsford on Wednesday to pick up from the machine at the station rather than buying on the day. Prior planning with tickets pays. The return ticket was £39.50 and I used £20 worth of clubcard vouchers to get £40 of spend at Red Spotted hanky so saved myself the £39.50 train fair.



Sensible Drinking on Friday night

I’m not sure if this counts as frugality, definitely not sensible but I am going with it! The entertainment on Friday night was dinner and a disco and dinner included drinks until 10:45. So we made sure we drank more than enough of our allocation, the butlers (in the buff!) were more tham happy to bring us one last bottle at 10:40. I didn’t actually buy another drink that night, so it really was a night that just cost the price of the ticket.

Best mates.

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Dress purchase for my 40th birthday

In 3 weeks time its my 40th birthday party and of course I have to get a new dress for it. On Wednesday my personal shopper (Jack) and I hit John Lewis and looked at every single dress in the shop. The theme for my party is Hollywood glamour so only certain dresses are going to work. Every dress I looked at was either not right or Ted Baker/Karen Millen and costing £250!! In the past I would have just bought the £250 dress, but not this time. After 6 months of saving and frugality I had to look for something cheaper.

The last brand I looked at was Phase 8 and found 4 dresses, hurrah, to try on. The perfect dress was found and it came in at £130. Its a really pretty pale pink knee length almost 50’s glamour dress that can be worn for plenty of other occasions. So I’m really happy and relieved to have found my birthday dress. Its frugal for me as in the past I would have spent double!

Colouring my hair myself

Unbelievably I only just started colouring my own hair around 6 months ago. I never trusted that I would be able to do it properly so never attempted it. And a colour and cut used to cost me £80. Last week I bought a £5 box of Garnier hair colour and got rid of my greys. It actually looks okay..am happy and it only cost me £5.




So I coloured my hair today..just the top bits that were really grey. I feel like I did when I was aged 15 dying my hair as it’s 1) very dark according to hubby 2) purple according to Dylan 3) not looking great according to me 😂😂 Appointment booked with hairdresser to fix 😣😣 #3positivethings for Thursday 1) I recorded a podcast today with @becleverwithyourcash. Was great fun and a really natural fun chat. I’ll pop a link in my bio. 2) Did a great 45 mins of pilates this morning on my joinflex.Tv subscription. Feeling healthy. 3) Had lots of really meaningful conversations today with other bloggers on messenger, email and in my ‘Blogging Your Way To Riches’ Facebook group. Search for it and join the community.

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Chocolate cake

Last weekend we did some experimentation with baking. I am working on a new idea for a cake creation using Aldi ingredients so Josh and I tried out a cake as a potential for the project last Sunday. We had all the ingredients already in the store cupboard and it satisfied our chocolate craving over the weekend. Recipe and post coming soon. I love it when you make something really special, particularly with chocolate involved when you have the ingredients already.

I’m linking up with CassEmma and Becky in this week’s ‘Five Fabulously Frugal things I’ve done this week linky.