Las vegas Holiday basics

Las Vegas Holiday Basics – What everyone going needs to know




Las Vegas Holiday Basics

My 9th visit to Vegas was to be a different one. Firstly, we didn’t have cash to burn so had a budget to stick to, but it still had to be special to reflect my big 40th birthday. Secondly it was with our friends Debbie and Woody who have never been before so we wanted to show them what Vegas has to offer.

Las Vegas Holiday Basics

Hubby and I love Vegas, hence the multiple visits. I love that its five days of luxury but not with the park lane price tag. I love the contrast of things you can do. I love the friendly customer service. I love the heat, the pools and the five days of trying out with lady luck.

I have got a few posts lines up from the week. I wanted to share with you ways to save money in Vegas. I wanted to share with you reviews of my favourite ever excursions. I also wanted to share with you my recent restaurant discoveries including a few old favourites. Finally a post about Vegas basics that everyone needs to know.




I thought the first post to share should be Las Vegas Holiday Basics and what I think everyone needs to know.

Las Vegas Holiday BasicsChoose your hotel wisely

Choose your hotel wisely. I don’t mean the most expensive or exclusive hotel. I mean location. Central strip is where you want to stay and whatever your budget you can get a room here. We stayed at the Aria, mainly because 1) its lovely 2) the art is simply stunning and 3) my wonderful friend Mildred is a concierge there. I would 100% recommend this hotel.

 

This central location is essential as you will be walking everywhere and staying in the central strip means most places are within reach. We paid £2,300 for 2 people for 5 nights at the Aria including direct Virgin economy flights. We booked this package using Topcashback, searched for Expedia, clicked though to Expedia to book. This simple process rewarded us with £132 cashback. The pricey hotels in a good location are Bellagio, Cosmopolitan, Ceasars Palace. If you want to save a bit go for Vdara, Planet Hollywood, Ballys. If you want cheaper Tropicana, Hurrahs, Flamingo are good. All the hotels are amazing with tons of restaurants, beautiful pools, huge gyms. Whether they be cheap or expensive. Hey you can even stay at the Travel Lodge which was opposite our hotel, we could see it from our Aria room!

Las vegas Holiday basics

Take comfy shoes

I wore my jawbone the whole time I was there this year. BTW get your jawbone from Amazon, they are bargain prices at around £30 for something like this.

So slight exception is that I did go the gym twice which included 2 x 5km runs. But in 5 days and 5 nights I did 93,000 steps, 43 miles ish of exercise. My highest day being 24,000 steps. You are going to want to wonder around the hotels and there is a lot of walking to do. On 24,000 step day we walked from Aria to Cosmo for breakfast, then walked to Ceasars Palace to explore, over to Cromwells for a wander and wee, Venetian for wander and gondola ride. Then back to Aria again. In the evening we headed to Old Town Vegas for more walking through hotels, drinks by the side of the strip and dinner at the 4 Queens. We got a cab back to the Aria after that. Old town is a 4-5 miles drive!

I mostly wore my trusty Birkenstocks, Nike flipflops (most comfy) or 6 inch New Look wedges;-)

Drink lots of water

I am advising this but I don’t think I adhered to it as well as I should have done. It is so dry in Vegas even in the spring heat so its rather important to drinks lots of water. Plus you might be drinking quite a bit of alcohol. We had one day where we drank from 4am to 11pm…pretty hardcore and you are meant to drink one water for every alcoholic drink.

The bars and restaurants are very generous with their water, you get it as soon as you sit down and they keep it topped up. So maximise this rather than buying loads of water as you walk around!



Make a local friend

Back in 2013 I met Mildred at the Cosmopolitan concierge desk. She sorted out so much stuff for my friend Nickys 40th birthday. We got on like a house on fire and became friends on Facebook (of course!). Ever since then Mildred has sorted out everything for us on our stays, from restaurant bookings to trip recommendations to shows. She always knows the cool places, the best places that do not cost the earth, the most fun tours. This year she met us in Red Rock Canyon after our horse riding (a whole blog post to come on that as it was amazing) and we had lunch and a wonder around Bonnie Springs range. She also made us dress up for old fashioned photos.

las vegas holiday basics

Bonnie Springs dress up – (we were forced!!)

If you are ever in Vegas do go see Mildred at the Aria for any advice, help with the latest and greatest things going on in Vegas.

If you only go to Las Vegas once

You should book a helicopter tour to the Grand Canyon. It’s the most amazing trip ever and it truly inspiring and awesome. It is one the wonders of the world after all. It will take your breath away, it made my friend Debs cry, it is so worth it. I have done it a couple of times. Around 10 years ago we took a trip to the canyon and landed by the Colorado river and had a little boat trip. Then last year we flew to the canyon and then walked the skywalk a transparent semi-circle bridge. Both were amazing. You fly over lake mead and hoover dam and on the way back you fly along the strip.

A fab trip that is well worth the hundreds of dollars its going to cost. Maverick is the best company to use and if you webchat to them before you go you can save 10%.

So those are my Vegas essentials…I post a new post on my site normally every week day so I’ll be back again next week with my second Vegas post.

What are you Las Vegas holiday basics that everyone should know? Please share in the comments so everyone can read them too. I am always up for learning something new about my favourite holiday destination.



confessions of a personal finance blogger

My Confessions of a Personal Finance Blogger – Debt




The Confessions of a Personal Finance Blogger

I am well known for my honesty in the blogging world. I am specifically chosen for brand campaigns for my authenticity and real life relatable stories. The posts that always perform best are the ones where I admit my flaws and talk about how they happened and how I am going to try to fix them.

I have written about my financial mistakes, my mental health struggles, my weight issues. I have talked about the truth of being a parent, the reality of being a business owner, the death of my parents and my health issues. No holds barred.

Debt

Until it came to my debt. I am not shy to talk about this with my friends. I really want them to know why I have had to say no to a 40th New York holiday this year or centre parks last year or why I might suggest a dinner at a friend’s house rather than go out for food. My friends know that I am still in the early stages of a new business and they know I have credit card debt. I always have had a balance sitting on an interest free credit card.




But I have never outwardly expressed it on here, confessions of a personal finance blogger. My blog (my baby!) where I write about all the frugal things I do and money saving ways I live my life. I have always lived my life in a money saving way but where I save on some things I splurge on others (prada handbags). I have always lived my life in the moment, wanting things now (refer back to the death of my parents, could explain it, I’m no psychologist or anything). Things have always been paid upfront on a credit card/loan and then repaid over time.

I do have some savings. Once upon a time, only 2 years ago, I had £40k in my bank account and just £8k sat on interest free credit cards. I had just taken redundancy so was rather cash rich. I saw no reason in paying off the credit card debt as it was interest free. This £8k was the hangover from our house extension where we had overspent.

That 40k burnt a hole in my pocket, the first thing I did was hit Selfridges and bought myself a redundancy present, a Prada handbag. £600 gone. It was hubby’s 40th birthday so we went on holiday to Las Vegas and New York and spent maybe £4k in the process. Hubby went to Barcelona, to the Belfry for a golf weekend, and we had a £500 lunch for his birthday. We then went to Spain with the family during the summer holidays and spent another £5k!! So, in just a few months that was £12k ish spent.




The remaining money went on living expenses whilst I was growing the business. There was pretty much a whole year with us slowly reducing our living expenses and using up the remaining £28k. In my first year of trading I made very little money, a few £k. I made some money matched betting and eBaying. By June 2016 the money was gone. I swopped the £8k credit card debt over to a new card with a longer interest free period, adding a bit debt to it from our monthly spending. Suddenly it became £10k.

But then Mrs Mummypenny started earning money, decent money. We had radically reduced our monthly spends from £4500 per month down to £3000 per month in a year. I was able to draw money out of the business and pay towards our monthly bills of £3000. But of course, things happen that mean the monthly £3k isn’t just it. Christmas happens, birthdays, car repairs. Another month worth of expenses went onto the credit card.

Then my 40th birthday arrived in March 2017. I had to celebrate that and do something special. Vegas was booked and it went on the credit card. I had a birthday party which cost £500.

Reality check

Here we are now April 2017, just back from Vegas where I didn’t win enough to repay what was owed. One of my first admin things to catch up on was calling all the credit card companies, getting an up to date balance and timings of when the 0% ends. I needed a total of all the money owed. I also worked out how much money we have and are owed. Thankfully Mrs Mummypenny had a busy Feb & March so I am owed a large chunk of cash.

The debt comes to £15,500.

There you go, the hard-cold number. Pretty big hey. Easily done over a period of time where I was no longer bringing in the £4k per month that I used to earn at EE.

Let’s Rationalise this and come up with a plan.

First things first the debt needs to be restructured. Meaning a new 0% card needs to be organised whilst my credit rating (who knows how?) is still 999 on Experian (everyone check it for free here!). I was able to transfer £7,500 (with a hefty 3% fee) over to an MBNA card which is 0% interest free for 42 months.




This means that I have £1,000 of holiday spends on a Halifax foreign currency card that needs to be repaid now, as interest is payable from 5th May. Check.

I have £1,500 on a business credit card that needs to be paid off as a priority as there are interest charges.

I then have £5,500 on a Virgin credit card which is interest free until November 2018. I have 18 months to pay that one off.

I am not 100% sure how I am going to deal with all of the above, but I am going to seek help from a couple of personal finance friends who have got themselves out of debt. I will report back on the how in more detail.

The positives of Money we have and are owed.

There is good:-) We have money in a shares ISA, some annoying Tesco shares worth 50% of what I paid for them, savings, money owed to my business, money in Mrs Mummypenny accounts. This comes to around £9k. We have 3 months’ worth of household essentials in the bank.

Cutting back

I have re-done our budget again (its redone every month currently) and £3k is what we spend each month on mortgage, food, petrol, bills. I am sure there are more cut backs to be made within here. I know what can be cut back, it just takes a strict mind to say no to a few things in that budget (sky sports, school dinners?, childcare, no convenience co-op shops). I have already managed to change the mortgage and save us £100 per month with the new deal starting from July. The obvious things like energy, broadband, insurance, TV are as low as they can possibly get!

If anyone reading this needs a copy of my budget spreadsheet then please contact me lynn@mrsmummypenny.co.uk.

And Mrs Mummypenny is on the up. My monthly income increased by £1000 per month from Q4 2016 to Q1 2017. Q2 is going to be even bigger as I know what work I have agreed and what money is due to be paid during this quarter. This trend can only continue up.

Hubby left his job two weeks ago, so he needs to get going with starting up his dream business to ensure that we can pay the mortgage beyond 3 months. There a whole other story there, mainly on how to set up a business that requires a capital investment for set-up. And that sometimes you cant settle for unhappiness you have just got to walk.

The Secret and the Law of Attraction

Both hubby and I have been reading The Secret and The Magic and 100% believe that everything will be okay. Money will come as long as we believe it will. I have faith that very soon Mrs Mummypenny will be bringing in £5k per month. It’s not far off I am telling you!

We are visualising money and have belief it will come. We are practising gratitude and affirmation in bundles. I don’t feel worried about the money owed to others as I know it will be resolved.




So, there you go my reality. I’ll report back soon on how we are doing with manifestation of money and how much we have managed to repay.

If you want to help in any way please share this post, as we all know our family is not the only one in this situation. I will get more traffic, more social media followers, more email subscribers, more FB group members, more people clicking on affiliate links, more people buying my book. And all of this will turn into money.

Thank you for reading.

Aldi Roast Dinner – British Pork, Yorkshire Pudding, Roasties and Veg




Aldi Roast Dinner – British Outdoor Bred Pork, Yorkshire Pudding, Roasties and Vegetables

My Aldi food post this week is a classic. Aldi roast dinner – Sunday roast dinner with the family. Most Sundays we will knock up a roast dinner. It’s such a lovely family thing to do to sit down with a plate of healthy food and have a chat (read that as convincing the children to eat their vegetables;-))

The great thing about an Aldi roast dinner is that it’s not going to break the bank. I shopped for the meat and vegetables on Sat 22nd April and here is what I bought. This will serve 5 of us, the boys love a roast dinner and eat a lot!

aldi roast dinner

  • Specially selected Outdoor British Bred Pork Crackling Joint. 1.038kg for £4.87
  • 5kg of Maris Piper of which I have used ½ the packet £1.49 = £0.75
  • 500g carrots again used ½ the packet £0.31= £0.16
  • Roasted pre-trimmed sprouts – £0.99
  • Butternut squash, I got it in the special 6 offer a couple of weeks back (still looks fine!) £0.45
  • Tender Stem Broccoli    – £1.35
  • 3 eggs for Yorkshire puddings (£1.75 for 12)  – £0.44
  • Plain Flour same quantity as eggs – £0.10
  • Semi skimmed milk same quantity as eggs – £0.05
  • Gravy granules  – £0.20

This lots comes to £9.36 or £1.88 per person. Plus, I know there will be leftovers for maybe a vegetable soup for tomorrow lunch. It just goes to show when you break it down like this how little an Aldi roast dinner can cost for a meal that is good for the body and the soul.




I am really surprised by the price of the pork. It was more than enough to serve the 5 of us and it was super tasty. Hubby was ever so surprised when I told him it was British outdoor bred. And he looked at me in shock when I told him the whole dinner cost less than a tenner.

I wanted to talk through the timings and methods that will maybe give you some ideas on doing things a bit differently. And I must share hubby’s Yorkshire pudding method as he makes the best Yorkshire puddings I have ever tasted, even better than my mum used to cook.

The meat

2pm The meat goes into the oven, simple sprinkle of salt over the skin to make the crackling extra crispy. It’s in for 1 hr 35 mins at 190 in the fan oven.

Prepare the vegetables and potatoes

Next it’s time to prepare the potatoes, peel them and then cut them into similar sized chunks, not too big and not too small. Carrots are peeled and cut into battons, butternut squashed peeled and cut into chunks, broccoli into the steamer, brussel sprouts halved.

 

Yorkshire puddings

I have taken some pictures here to show the method as hubby wouldn’t let me record a video! Firstly, decide how many to make. We went for 12. Get a smallish cup to measure out all the ingredients. Hubby always likes to use this small tea cup.




Crack 3 eggs into the cup and measure where the eggs came to in the cup. Hubby always measures it with a bit of paper hanging over the edge. Put into mixing bowl. Wash and dry the cup.

Next plain flour up to the same measure line. Add flour to eggs and whisk together. Next semi-skimmed milk, again up to the measure line. Add half to the mixture, whisk together, then add the other half and whisk again. Transfer to a Pyrex jug and leave for 15 mins or so to get up to room temperature.

Timings for everything else

2:15pm Parboil the potatoes for 12 minutes. When done drain and leave to air dry on a cooling rack.

2:45 Preheat the oil for the roast potatoes

2:50 Add potatoes to oil, coat in oil and pop in same oven as meat.




3:05 Yorkshire tray goes into oven to heat the oil

3:08 Yorkshire pudding mix into tray and start cooking in the same oven as potatoes and meat.

3:15 Turn the roast potatoes

3:15 Coat butternut squash in oil and put into oven for roasting. I like to use rapeseed oil for roasting vegetables. We put these into our top oven as had run out of space in bottom oven!

3:25 Add the brussel sprouts to butternut squash for roasting, add a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

3:30 Broccoli and carrots into steamer

3:35 Meat out and leave to rest for 10 mins

3:35 Start making gravy with juices from meat (not the fat) and a couple of tablespoons of gravy granules

3:40 Carrots and broccoli ready serve up

3:45 Potatoes and Yorkshire puddings ready serve up

3:45 Butter nut squash and brussels ready onto the table

3:45 Gravy into gravy boat. Done

And there you have it dinner served to 5 hungry people and 5 plates cleared. No meat, potatoes or Yorkshires were left at the end. But there were as predicted a few vegetables which I know will make a yummy lunch tomorrow.

 

This is a collaborative post where I received vouchers to cover my shopping.




5 Frugal Things post 26 – Returning home from Las Vegas




5 Frugal Things post 26 – Return from holiday

We returned from holiday on Wednesday, after 15 hours of flying, waiting in the airport and driving we were happy to get home. We had the most amazing holiday in Las Vegas. I have 5 posts planned telling you all about the holiday, one of which is the frugal things we discovered including $100 of free cab rides! I’ll be posting one each week so look out for them!

Life just goes back to normal when you return from holiday but I am so grateful for my business and not having to return to a commute to work, an office and a boss. Instead I have come back to admin for one day and then an exciting day in London. So here are my 5 frugal things post 26 that I have managed this week.

Airport Parking

Our frugality with airport parking and driving to Gatwick has paid off. It cost us £45 for the parking after clicking through to Holiday Extras via Topcashback. The petrol cost around £15. We split the cost with our friends who we went to Vegas with. We are super happy with £30 for parking and transport to the airport.



Exchanged My Dollars in America

I was left with $700 at the end of our holiday, after a lucky last day winning a few hundred on Blackjack and Roulette. My buddy Neilboy was staying on in America for a few more days so he bought the $ from me at a fab rate of 1.25, so much better than what I could have got had I brought it back and exchanged it here.

Tracksuits for the Boys

The 2 older boys wanted tracksuits from America, but the only place we could find them was Nike, and they were really expensive at $150 each!! So rather than waste the cash there I ordered 2 Adidas tracksuits from Amazon the day I got home. They both arrived today and cost £51 for both. Bargain.

Friday in London

I spent the morning in London on Friday. I had a meeting at the ITV studios on Southbank early so annoyingly had to buy a peak train ticket for £19 rather than £13 off peak. And then get the tube from Kings Cross to Waterloo. I made the most of the freebies at ITV and got a lovely latte which was operated using an IPad, how cool is that?

After the meeting, I had plenty of spare time before I had to get home so I decided to walk from Southbank to Moorgate where I can get the over ground train to home. It was a lovely walk (where I also spotted the lovely Eamonn and Ruth filming their intro This Morning link) over the Thames, I walked through Kings College, walked along the Strand, Fleet Street, Ludgate Hill, St Pauls, Cheapside and then Moorgate. I love a London walk and always like to look up at the top of the building to spot pretty statues. It was a nice 1.5 mile walk with a stop off at a coffee shop opposite Royal courts of justice to recharge the phone and do a bit of Mrs Mummypenny planning. This saved me the tube fare, although I did spend £4.50 in the coffee shop;-)

Paperchase Bargains

I needed some cards for birthdays so was chuffed to see Paperchase had a sale on when I walked past on Cheapside in the city. I got 5 cards for £1.25 each, a new notebook for £2.25, a pen for my god daughter for £1.50 and some flamingo stickers for 75p. Bargain. Paperchase is such a beautiful shop selling one of my favourite things stationery!!

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



best financial decisions

What are the best financial decisions I have ever made?

What are the best financial decisions I have ever made?

I wrote about my financial decisions that I regretted a couple of weeks back and whilst writing it I was also being struck by some of my best financial decisions. I thought I would save them for another post.




What I will start with is that I know 2017 is very different from an economic point of view that 1997. Some of the things I was able to do as a younger person may not be so possible now but the principles of what decisions I have made should stand true today.

Listening to my careers advisor

Back in sixth form college I had one meeting with a career/ university advisor. I was in the process of thinking about university, I was good at maths and business studies so a maths degree it was going to be. I wasn’t clever enough for Cambridge (thanks Maths teacher and Cambridge graduate for pointing that out!) but I was clever enough for the next tier down, Warwick, Bristol, Exeter, Manchester etc.

Career advisor asked if I had thought about Brunel where I could do a sandwich degree in Maths, with Statistics and Management. A thin sandwich degree with two six-month work placements. It sounded good so it went on my applications list.

Fast forward to results day…and I didn’t get the A in maths I needed for Warwick but I did get a B which was fine for everyone else and I went for Brunel and the sandwich degree.

The work experience I gained at university was invaluable for finding a job upon graduation. I had 6 months’ experience at an accountant’s firm and 6 months’ experience on the M&S management trainee program. Companies were jumping to employ me upon graduation. Get great work experience and you will be far ahead of the crowd applying for all those graduate roles.

I walked into a job with HSBC where I could sit my CIMA accountancy exams on a fab starting salary of 25k. A great start to my career.

Buying my first house at 23

I had a boyfriend when I left university who I moved in with. We then bought a house together in 2000. We bought a 3-bed semi-detached house near Brentwood in Essex for £220k. The process was easier with combined salaries for the mortgage and the deposit required was much lower. Although I remember we only put 5% down. But we were on the ladder from a young age. That relationship ended when I was 27 and the house was sold. I walked away with 25k as the house had gone up in value between buying and selling. This was then the deposit for my own 2-bedroom house in Knebworth that I bought by myself. Shortly after that I met my now husband. We have moved again since then and now have a house worth £500k with an outstanding mortgage of £200k. Those early days of owning a house have worked out well.

Extending our current house from 3 to 4 bedrooms

A very astute decision to invest money in the house. We extended by an extra 2 metres to the side of our house up and down stairs, giving us a 2nd bathroom, utility room, bigger kitchen, 4th bedroom, bigger 3rd bedroom and bathroom. The extension cost us around 80k but added on £120k in value. We had the house valued before and after to allow the comparison. We now have a house big enough the house the 3 boys and to stay in for the indefinite future.




Astroturfing the garden

You may laugh..but this is one of the best investments we have made in recent times. We had it done last summer. It’s amazing looks just like real grass, but with no mud, bald grass patches. It’s perfect for the boys who literally go out there every day to play football.

It wasn’t the cheapest of thing to buy, it cost us just under £2000. But it is invaluable for entertainment for the boys, lack of maintenance. The whole family loves it so its ultimate value for money.

 

Starting my Own Business

This was definitely my biggest risk taken in my financial life, but will also provide the greatest returns. I took a generous redundancy package back in 2015 and put my mind to making a success of Mrs Mummypenny before the redundancy money ran out. This meant I had 12 months/18 months maximum to get the income to a certain level to ensure that the essential bills were paid. Hard work prevailed and I worked super hard to get myself known to brands and blogger networks. I attended many events and worked hard to build my social numbers.

The risk paid off with me earning enough money to pay the bills hurrah by Q4 2016. Not bad for after a year in business. Q1 2017 was even better with me earning far in excess of the bills. And net net I am earning more money than I did in my last senior management EE job as I have very little childcare to pay now (I used to pay around £800 to 1000 per month).

The only way is up with Mrs Mummypenny. As I work on more branded campaigns my name becomes more and more well known. The book, Blogging Your Way To Riches, I co-wrote last year has propelled me up to an expert status on blogging and how to make money from it. So really the world is my oyster and riches are coming my way.

 

What is the best financial decision you have ever made?



credit cards

Why is the regulator worried about credit cards – and should you be?

Why is the regulator worried about credit cards – and should you be?

 This is a guest post by Sara Williams, a Citizens Advice advisor, who blogs about everything to do with debt and credit ratings at Debt Camel.

When Lynn asked me what was new in the debt world this week, there was only one possible answer: the FCA, which regulates banks and credit card companies, has proposed new measures to help people in “persistent credit card debt”.

What is “persistent debt”?

If you are buying more things your card balance keeps changing, so how can you tell if this is really problem debt?

The FCA thinks you are in persistent debt if over the last 18 months you have paid more in interest and charges than you have paid off the amount that you borrowed. That is a pretty neat definition. If I have paid £600 to my credit card over this time and I have repaid less than £300, it’s going to take a long while to clear my balance!

The FCA’s research shows there are four million credit card accounts in this situation. And on average they repay £2.50 for every £1 repaid.

That’s shocking!

That is seriously expensive debt. You may be thinking it sounds horrific, nearly as bad as payday loans.

Because it’s so expensive, the banks and other credit card companies are making a lot of money from it. They don’t have any incentive to step in and reduce this.

This is what the regulator is for, to step in and make sure the whole industry has to adopt good standards. This isn’t a nanny state that wants to stop people borrowing and it’s not taking away the flexibility of credit cards that so many people find useful. It’s just saying that the lenders have to encourage people to repay their debt faster.

The FCA is suggesting:

  • When people have been in persistent debt for 18 months, the lender will have to write to them to encourage them to increase their payments;
  • If they don’t take start repaying faster after another 18 months, lenders should propose a repayment plan to help clear debt more quickly;
  • If a customer then can’t afford to start repaying the amount borrowed more quickly, the lenders will have to look at options such as reducing or waiving interest.

Would you be one of the four million problem accounts?

Although I like the definition of persistent debt, it would be a lot of work with a calculator for someone to see if they are one of the affected accounts.

Luckily there are a couple of easier ways you can assess you own card history. Have you made the minimum payment only for the last 18 months? Or have you been using over 90% of your credit limit for most of this period?

If either of those applies, then you are probably in the credit card trap where most of your monthly repayment is going on interest, not paying off what you borrowed. If you buy just one large ticket item on a card, a new washing machine or a baby buggy say, and you only make the minimum payments, for many cards it will take you more than 13 years to pay off that debt. This is because as you pay a bit off, your minimum payments goes down.

When you are using your credit card, this normally isn’t clear to you. You bought some stuff last month, got charges some interest and paid the minimum off, but because you added to your borrowing, you don’t really see how little you debt has dropped.

What can you do to get yourself out of this trap?

You don’t want to wait for the FCA’s proposals to get implemented, that won’t improve your situation for years.

The easy way to avoid this long term debt is to aim to fix your credit card repayments so they don’t drop a little bit each month. If your minimum payment is £58, you may not think that paying £60 will make much of a difference… but if you leave that £60 the same for months, it really does speed up your debt repayment and reduce the cost of your borrowing.

Why not give it a go for a year? You can always change this later if you need to.

A huge thank you to Sara for this post, if you are struggling with debt then please head over to Debt Camel for all sorts of help and advice. Sara makes a huge difference to many peoples lives.

5 Frugal Things post 25 for the week before holiday




5 Frugal Things post 25

This week has been a packed week of Easter holidays – keeping the children amused, whilst trying to get a weeks worth of blog post scheduled. And pack and sort everything out for the holiday. I need this holiday! Here are a few things we have done to save money for our holiday to Vegas. This is the 9th time I have been to Vegas and we are doing things a bit differently this time. We are splurging on things on holiday but saving on other things. Here are my 5 frugal things post 25.

Booking seats on the plane

We always like to get seats in the economy section on the top deck of the plane. It sort of feels a bit more exclusive but for the same economy price. However when I checked if we could book these seats early it was going to cost a huge £140 for the seats to be pre-booked. So we are going to wait until 24 hours before the flight and will try to grab those seats when we check in. £140 to books seats for two people. that is far too much money. It is something we have done before for this flight but this time we are saving the money and waiting.



Hotel for the night before flight or drive on the day?

Another holiday tradition we are breaking this time is staying in a hotel at Gatwick the night before our flight. Our flight is at 10:30 am so we need to be there at 7:30am. In the past we have got the train to Gatwick and stayed in the south terminal Hilton hotel the night before and had a nice dinner. We then have a taxi pick us up on our return. In the past this has cost around £300 with everything added together.

This time we are driving to Gatwick and parking there using the summer special parking offer. We booked it with Holiday Extras via Topcashback. I searched for Holiday extras using the Topcashback website and clicked on the link…this gave me a 20% cash back discount. Simple! The parking cost went from £58 to £47. Add on the cost of petrol and we are spending around £60. Much less than £300. To get a Topcashback account sign up here.

The cost of looking after the cats whilst we are away

As you will have seen from Instagram we now have 2 cats, Purdy the old lady cat and Trev the new young teenager cat on the scene. Rather than pay for the cattery, my neighbour Lucy is going to pop in every morning to feed the cats and let them out. And then every evening a friends daughter is going to pop up to feed the cats and play with them for a bit. A saving of maybe £50 here.





Travel Insurance

I have just taken out a new annual policy for the whole family. Its so much cheaper to get an annual policy for everyone rather than pay for individual policies as and when needed. I used the Topcashback comparison tool and chose a policy to cover all 5 of us including USA. I didn’t go for the cheapest and still managed to get a policy for £45 for the year after cashback with a recognised named firm.

Holiday Money

I was very lucky to get lots of $$ for my birthday, and I exchanged £1000 worth of dollar 2 weeks ago at a great rate of $1.251. That’s our spending money covered. If we do need any other money then I have a Halifax clarity card. This is a credit card that I only use for holidays. It offers the best rate of currency at that point of time. So at the moment if I look on MSE currency checker £1 = $1.232 at Best Currency Exchange, ordering online and collecting from branch. However if I was to pay for something today using my Halifax Clarity card I would get a better rate of $1.241. Just as a comparison the post office rate is $1.211 today. So get yourself a Halifax Clarity card just for use on holiday.

Most credit card will load an exchange rate fee, as do debit cards making it more expensive and the charges sneakily hidden. This card will need to be paid off as soon as we return from holiday before interest is incurred.

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 have done this week linky.



make money this weekend

5 quick and easy ways to make money this weekend




5 ways to make money this weekend

Here is a rather wonderful post from my fellow personal finance expert & friend Emma Drew who gives you 5 ideas on how to make a stash of cash quickly, like this weekend! Over to Ems.

No matter the reason, most of us could do with making some extra cash, couldn’t we? Whether it is to treat the kids over the holidays, pay off a debt or put it towards a new purchase. What if I told you that there are things that you can do right now, or over the weekend, to make some extra cash? Here are 5 ways to make money this weekend.

Have a declutter

eBay suggest that most of us have £4,000 worth of unwanted or unused items in our house, and this time of year is perfect for having a declutter. You can either focus on one area of your home (remember when Lynn and I tackled her under the stairs cupboard?) or set a timer and grab as many unused items as you can. Once you have your unwanted items, it is time to start thinking about ways to make money from them. You can:

  • Sell them on local Facebook selling groups
  • List and sell them on eBay
  • Sell unwanted books, DVDs, games and CDs to websites like Music Magpie, Zapper, Ziffit and WeBuyBooks. They all have apps where you can scan in the barcodes and be given a price instantly.
  • Sell at a car boot sale




Cash in your coins

Have you been stashing your change away for awhile now, never quite getting around to getting it banked? Although this isn’t technically making extra money, taking some time to get those coins banked is a great way to get some cash into your pocket or bank account this weekend.

Don’t be fooled into paying for those Coinstar machines that you find in supermarkets – they take a percentage of the money you put inside. Instead, see if your bank has a coin machine inside (most Natwest branches do), or use them in a self-service checkout at a supermarket. You’ll receive an extra coins back as bigger denominations. Or you could grab coin bags from your bank or Post Office and count the coins the old fashioned way.

Make money from losing weight

If you are on a diet and exercise mission before summer then why not get rewarded for your efforts with cold, hard cash? Diet Bet is a website where you bet on whether you can lose weight or not. If you don’t manage to lose the weight then your bet is forfeited into the prize pot, which is then shared across everyone who has lost the weight. You can choose a 4 week kick starter, or a longer term bet.

Join 20 Cogs

20 Cogs is an offer based website, where you can earn money for completing offers. Once you have completed all 20 offers then your money will be released to you. You probably won’t manage to complete all 20 Cogs this weekend, but you can definitely make a start! Click here to read more about Lynn’s experience with 20 Cogs who made £176 with her first cash in!
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h3>Switch bank accounts

If you have been complaining about the service that you receive from your bank then why are you staying with them? A lot of bank accounts are offering substantial (£100+) rewards for switching to them. The bank switching process is really simple these days. If anything goes wrong (such as direct debits not switching over) then you are offered compensation by the banks.

I hope that you have found these 5 ways to make money this weekend motivating. I would love to know if you go ahead with any of them, leave a comment below. If you are interested in making extra money then sign up for my free 6 week money making course. It is delivered to you via email for you to complete in your own time.

Emma Drew blogs at EmmaDrew.Info all about ways to make money, save money and live the life that you want. You can also find Emma on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube




wilbury in letchworth

The Wilbury in Letchworth – Pizza & carvery restaurant review




The Wilbury in Letchworth

One of my favourite review job for my site is restaurant reviews. We love eating out as a family and it’s something that is difficult to do when you are on a budget. I was rather happy to hear from the PR team behind the restaurant group Stonehouse. They have 70 Pizza and Carvery restaurants in the UK, and they were keen for the family and I to try out the Wilbury in Letchworth, a 20 minute drive from us.

On route back from Cambridge football on Sunday we stopped off for a spot of late lunch. wilbury in letchworthThe restaurant group has a new menu that its keen to get people to try and it was perfect for families. There was something on the menu to keep everyone happy.

Food is ordered

wilbury in letchworthWe were greeted when we walked in by the restaurant manager who showed us to our table which was situated near the carvery area and pizza oven. She explained that we were to go to the bar to order our drinks and our food. Immediate plus points as there was slush puppy/slushy as an option for the children. We decided to go for the carvery for hubby and I. Hubby went for a large carvery which included a giant Yorkshire pudding and a sausage(!) and I went for a regular carvery.

Josh went for a kid’s carvery, Dylan went for a margarita pizza and Jack went for a ham and mushroom pizza. I also ordered dough balls and portion of macaroni cheese bites. We ate at 2pm in the afternoon and it was fairly quiet. Maybe because it was a hot day or maybe because we were eating between lunch and dinner? This meant that there was no queue for the carvery a huge bonus when you are eating with a family of 3 hungry boys!

wilbury in letchworth

Hubbys large carvery

wilbury in letchworth

My regular carvery.

 




Hubby is a meat fan and didn’t go for much veg, as you can see from the huge plate of carbs and protein. Apparently, there is some cauliflower cheese there! My dinner is a bit more balanced with peas and carrots! There was a choice of lots of different meat, there was carvery turkey, beef, pork and gammon/ Or you could have half a chicken or some pie. You could then help yourself to as much veg, stuffing and potato that you could fit on your plate.

wilbury in letchworth

Dylans pizza lunch

wilbury in letchworthWe all really enjoyed our food and it was all eaten. Josh finished his plate of carvery very quickly, it’s a good move to offer mashed potato as well as roasties. He has already requested to go back again! Hubby and I enjoyed our food as well, maybe the meat could have been carved a bit more generously and maybe the vegetables could have been a bit more adventurous that carrots and peas. But apart from that it was decent pub grub and most importantly the children all loved their food and ate it all. Parents, you know this is a winner!

The pizzas were really good, freshly made dough topped and cooked in the pizza oven to order. The doughballs were also freshly made, and a big hit with Dylan who managed to eat 8 of them!

 

 

Dessert Time

Once you have finished your main meal the waiters take everything away and take the orders for the desserts which of course the boys were most keen to have, even after finishing all their main meals.

We opted for the again freshly made and cooked cookies topped with ice-cream, we ordered a child’s portion and an adults portion. We ended up ordering another adults portion as the boys loved it so much. Jack went for the ice-cream factory where he chose his own sauces and toppings.

wilbury in letchworth wilbury in letchworthwilbury in letchworth

The service was friendly and quick. There were a few different people who served us and they were all friendly and helpful.

The price

It was a great value dinner. We received our food free of charge in return for the review but our meal would have cost us £61. The drinks were £11 (including 1 lager shandy, 1 diet Pepsi, 1 slushy, 1 J20 and 1 fruit shoot. The large adult carvery was £9.99 and the traditional carvery was £8.49. The children’s food was £3.49 for the mains which is a fantastic price. The desserts were an extra £1.49 for the kid’s cookie and ice-cream and £2.49 for the bottomless sundae. The adult’s dessert was £3.49 for the cookies and ice-cream.

I think this is good value for a family of 5 to well fed with 2 courses and a drink.



The Wilbury is on the outskirts of Letchworth and Hitchin, so not far from Stotfold and surrounding villages. Why not check out their website to see where your nearest Stonehouse Pizza and carvery restaurant is and give it a try.

This is a review post where we received our meal free of charge, this review remains impartial.

Introducing Edie & Rona Beautiful Stationery Business – COMPETITION

Introducing Edie & Rona Beautiful Stationery Business – COMPETITION

I love a bold step taken by a friend to start their own business, so when I spied my friend Julie Brian from EE had changed her job title on LinkedIn I was intrigued to see what she was up to. Julie has launched a beautiful stationery business Edie & Rona.

My love for stationery

I have a huge weakness for stationery. As regular readers will know I am meant to be on a budget currently but I have still managed to spend around £50 this year on new stationery. A new planner and some sharpies earlier in the year.

Edie & Rona

If there was ever a business I could happily go into it would be stationery and Julie has done it. In a matter of months, she has set up the most beautiful website which is incredibly simple to find the perfect product and then buy it. She has set up brilliant relationships with exclusive stationery brands and has a real eye for products that are a little bit different and very cool. She has run several stationery events and has appeared in House beautiful magazine. Quite an achievement to get all this done in just 5 months.

We met up back in February and discussed how it felt to leave the EE corporate world. We talked about the things that are so much better about having our own businesses and then what was maybe more of a challenge! We talked about things we were proud of and things that we have learnt.

I really wanted to share this brand with you readers of my website and social channels as I know you will love it. I have picked out my favourite products for you which I have pictures below and told you why I love them. PLUS, I have a fabulous giveaway from Edie & Rona that you will be ever so keen to get your hands on!

Mrs Mummypenny’s Favourite Edie and Rona products

  • These Katie Loxton pouches are stunning. There are several colours available (gold, silver, bronze, pink) with different inspiring statements. I love this ‘Good as Gold Pouch’. Rather multi-functional, I could use it as a pencil case, handbag or travel documents holder.

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  • I have so many notebooks and planners. It is the staple stationery item that everyone should have in their handbag. And I love to have one that is a bit different that might get noticed in a meeting or that I love carrying around with me! Here is a beautiful one, you are capable of amazing things. And this one is included in the prize bundle.

 

  • I have a thing about magnets! I have a rather large American style fridge freezer, covered in pictures and certificates with magnets. I have to buy one whenever I go on holiday, got a few a few Las Vegas magnets. I love these hearts, so pretty.

  • I maybe sound like I am talking like a strange obsessive about stationery but I also love pens. Getting a pen from wherever I am in the world is a challenge of mine, so I have pens from hotels, restaurants, even London Zoo! I am loving these Caroline Gardner pens. I would try really hard to not lose these beautiful pens

  • I love things that are a little bit different and these paperclips are very cool. These are the butterfly design but there are also stars and hearts. This is actually a great tool for me as I have piles of paper everywhere that need to clipped together for organisation.

 

Competition Time

Win this set of beautiful stationery from Edie and Rona. All you need to do is click on the gleam icon below for loads of different way to enter the competition. Good Luck!!

The bundle includes

  • Capable of Amazing Things A5 notebook
  • Flamingo cleaning cloth
  • Things I like trinket tray
  • Spotted box pencil set

Enter the competition here

Click here to add your email address to Mrs Mummypenny for competition entry
Edie & Rona Stationery Giveaway

 

Terms & Conditions

Competition is open from Tues 11th April to Sun 30th April 2017

One winner will be chosen at random and contacted via their means of entry week commencing 1st May 2017

If the winner fails to reply within 7 days I will contact the next person on the list and so on.

The prize bundle will be posted to the winner by Edie & Rona

Entry via the gleam icon, by visiting both Edie & Rona and Mrs Mummypenny Facebook and Instagram pages. Also, bonus entry by adding your email to Mrs Mummypenny email list and sharing with your friends.

This competition is being run by Mrs Mummypenny in collaboration with Edie & Rona

This competition is in no way affiliated to Facebook or Instagram.

Open to UK residents, aged 18 and over

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