Author Archives: Lynn James

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.



How to Keep Car Ownership Costs to a Minimum

How to Keep Car Ownership Costs to a Minimum

 Most people find that purchasing a car is the least expensive part of owning it. Cheap vehicles are reasonably easy to come by, but paying a minimal amount at the outset doesn’t mean that you can expect your bargain basement buy to be a low-cost keeper the rest of the time.

This is why it’s important to do your research before you hand over any money. There are plenty of ways to reduce your expenditure, provided that you approach your purchase in a sensible way. To help give you an idea of what you can do, here are three top tips to start with…

#1: Look for a Car That’s Fuel Efficient

The average vehicle costs around £3,000 per year to run, making Britain the most expensive place on earth to own a car. Of this sum, over two thirds will be spent on fuel. This means that one of the simplest ways to keep costs low is to choose a fuel efficient model to take you to and fro. The Peugeot 208 and 308 are the best of the best according to the statistics, so you might want to put them at the very top of your list of potentials.

#2: Shop Around for Insurance

Insurance is another significant outlay, but anyone who has ever used a comparison site will know that prices can vary massively from provider to provider. This means that your best bet is to shop around. Surprisingly, only 39 percent of people actually take the time to do this, so we suggest making sure that you’re one of them. Companies that don’t feature on these online portals are worth looking at too, so why not compile your own shortlist to help you find the biggest savings around?

#3: Save Money through Performing Proper Maintenance

We also suggest following AA Cars’ advice and performing proper maintenance on your vehicle throughout the duration of your ownership. Simple measures such as checking and changing fluid levels, acting on warning signs, and completing easy fixes yourself can save you a significant amount, helping to reduce, or even prevent, the repair work charges that you might otherwise run up.

Do yourself a favour today and start to research the ways that you can scale back your vehicle-related expenses. Surprisingly easy to accomplish, the many tips and tricks you’ll discover could add up to some really sizeable savings, leaving more money in the bank for the things that really matter.

Ways to Make Your Home Office Comfortable and Functional

Ways to Make Your Home Office Comfortable and Functional

Thanks to technology, more mums than ever before are managing to successfully balance family and career. It’s easier than ever before to set up your own business from home and it comes with a lot of benefits.

However, if you work, or you’re planning to work from home, you’ll soon discover it’s not as easy as it sounds. There’s lots of things to contend with when you work from home so if you want to ensure you’re setting yourself up for success, it all starts with the design of your office.

Why comfort matters

When kitting out your home office, it’s easy to focus purely on the practical aspects of its design. However, it’s equally as important to consider the comfort of the space. If you’re uncomfortable while you work, you’re not going to be as focused and over time it can lead to constant aches and pains; particularly if you have the wrong type of office chair.

Office chairs can be pretty expensive, but they are worth the initial investment. Try to opt for a leather chair with a footrest whenever possible. This takes pressure off the knees and also provides maximum comfort on the back.

One of the best things about creating a home office is that you can design it to specifically meet your needs, unlike when you go to work in an office environment. This means you can add plenty of comfortable, homely details such as plants, pictures and ornaments. You can also colour the walls any way you want to. Try to opt for bright, lively colours as this will help to spark your motivation and creativity.

One of the last things you’ll likely think of when creating a home office is warmth. As you’ll be spending a lot of time in your office, it’s important to ensure you’re warm enough. If you don’t want to heat the entire house then investing in an individual radiator specifically for the office is a great idea. You can pick them up at great prices from The Electrical Guys. 

Overall, the secret to creating the best office space is to ensure it’s full of home comforts. The more comfortable your office is, the more you’ll enjoy being in it and the more work you’ll do. Just remember to also keep the room decluttered as this will also help to boost productivity.

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.

cruise holidays

Cruise Holidays – A Shift Towards a Younger Audience

Cruise Holidays – A Shift Towards a Younger Audience

For a very long time, going on a cruise has been considered a type of vacation for older people. However, it should not be viewed like this, as it is actually a fantastic form of holiday that enables you to travel all around the world. It is comparable to a backpacking adventure, but it provides plenty of luxury along the way – this makes it ideal for all generations wanting to see parts of the world and travel across the seas.

A Shift in Focus

Currently, there is a shift happening where more and more young people are stepping foot on cruise liners and embarking on fun, valuable and luxurious vacations across the oceans. This can be attributed to the fact that modern cruise holidays have started to cater for a younger audience and this has seen a dramatic increase in passengers between 18 and 40.

This has been achieved through these companies adding exciting new destinations to their itineraries, launching shorter river cruises and also transforming their cruise liners into futuristic ships with all kinds of amazing technology and entertainment onboard. There are also minor changes being made, such as changing the decor to a more contemporary style and creating a less formal but more fun dining and drinking scene.

Facilities

Cruise specialists, such as Bolsover Cruise Club, ensure that all ages are well catered for and will have all kinds of enjoyable facilities on board that active types will enjoy. This could include rock climbing walls, tennis courts, swimming pools, waterparks and plenty more.

Excursions

Many companies have also addressed the type of excursions that passengers can enjoy on port days. Whereas before it would mainly consist of gentle sightseeing, there is now the opportunity for more active excursions, such as cycling from the port or going shopping for local ingredients and then cooking with these ingredients back on the ship. These port cities now often include exciting places that would appeal more to a younger audience, such as Borneo and Alaska where there are plenty of chances for adventure.

Billions has been pumped into the industry to revamp it towards a holiday that is targeted to those between 18 and 40. It appears to be working, as the average age of passengers has fallen dramatically in the last few years. This looks set to continue, as once the label of cruise holidays being for the older generation has been shed, more and more younger passengers will be keen to try them out with their friends whilst also making new ones along the way.

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.



Top Tips for Saving Money on Interiors

Top Tips for Saving Money on Interiors

Furnishing the inside of your home is essential for comfortable living, but it can get really expensive and quickly once you start buying all the different pieces . With the cost of furniture getting more and more expensive, creating your dream home can become much less of a reality when it comes to looking at your budgets. Here are some top tips for saving on interiors to help you create the perfect palace you’ve always dreamed of at a fraction of the cost:

Car Boot Sales

Getting up at 6am for those bargains may not sound ideal but there’s certainly a lot of opportunity to bag some great bargains. Head to a local car boot sale and don’t be afraid to barter to get the pieces you want, as well as finding large pieces of furniture you’ll also be able to find great decorative pieces for your home and pay next to nothing for them too.

Car boot sales are also a fabulous way to make some money as well, why not have a big de-clutter and sell those items that you never use.

Second Hand Shops

Second hand stores and charity shops are a great place to head to pick up some great furniture bargains. You’ll always be able to find something for a great price and even if it doesn’t match the rest of your furniture, the money it will cost you to paint it will certainly be much cheaper than buying brand new.

We have a charity shop in our village which always has fabulous looking furniture for great prices.

Facebook Sale Sites

Why not join your local Facebook sales group. I set one up for my local area and have 3000 members. There is often furniture on there for really cheap prices as people just want to get rid of it easily and have it collected and taken away.

FreeCycle

Look online at sites like preloved.co.uk and freecycle.org where you’ll find people who’re giving away their old furniture to a good home. It’s great as you can find people who live locally and nip round to pick it up or if they’re feeling extra generous they might even drop them off for you. With so many different types of furniture available on these sites you could kit out a whole room for free if you wanted to, helping you to save a lot of cash.

Create Your Own Storage Solutions

One of the best ways that you can save money on your interiors is by creating your own storage solutions. By building storage solutions that perfectly fit your home you’ll be able to save on both money and space as you can create bespoke pieces which perfectly fit the shape of your home, you’ll find everything you need available at SGS, and you’ll know that you’re creating pieces you .

With all these great ideas for saving money on your interiors, you could try a combination of them all and kit out your home with all of the essential items today.

This is a collaborative post.

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.