Category Archives: Money Saving

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.


Look online at sites like and 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.

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!

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

5 frugal things post 24

5 Frugal things post 24 – Easter Holidays are here

5 Frugal Things post 24

Its been a beautiful Easter holiday so far with the sun out most days. It inspires confidence and happiness when the sun is out. I didn’t quite properly plan for the Easter holidays although I did write a post that I published on Monday about Easter holiday money saving ideas which has given me lots of ideas for next week.

I am now 1 week into being 40. It doesn’t feel much different to being in my 30’s to be honest. Although with the clocks changing I have a new found motivation and drive to really work magic on my business and revolutionise it. I have had a goal to earn £5k per month for a while now..and I really want to smash it. In March I agreed work with clients worth £4k so it’s getting ever closer.

Football Fun Week

Dylan and Josh have been at football/multi sports camp this week, so actually this week has been relatively easy childcare wise. This a fantastic sports camps that has cost me £80 for 2 children for 4 days with 6 hours each day of activities and fun. This is amazing value for money and works out at £1.67 per hour for the boys. And the best things is that they get to play sport for 6 hours with their friends rather than me having to entertain them every day. All I need to do is equip them with a packed lunch and off they go. The camp is run by Future Sports so if you live locally to Knebworth check them out for next half term/summer holidays.

Spaghetti Bolognese

I love a spag bol. I always make a double portion to make sure we have enough meat for 2 meals worth. So, I use 2 packets of minced beef and 2 tins of chopped tomatoes to bulk it up. And I add a random mix of flavours from the larder cupboard to make it really tasty. Yesterday I used Oregano, Basil, Parsley, ground cumin, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar and beef stock. I also added a large onion and garlic also. If there are any other items hanging around in the fridge I will add them too, maybe a carrot or a pepper. This makes a huge pot of food to feed my hungry boys and leave enough for a pot to be frozen for a spag bol or maybe an Italian cottage pie in a weeks’ time.5 frugal things post 24

Blogger drinks in London

On Tuesday I headed into London to meet a few lovely blogger friends for drinks and food. I met up with Emma and Lotty first in a bar in London that had happy hour going on so we saved £10 on a bottle of prosecco. We then moved onto a bar on Dean Street to meet up with about 10 of us London based UK money bloggers. It’s always amazing to meet up with fellow bloggers face to face and discuss ideas. I left full of ideas for a website refresh, business ideas for hubby and big plans for 2017 to blog my way to riches (see what I did there!! Buy the book here!!)

Hubby’s plan

I mentioned my hubby there, who has last week left his job. He has been wanting to leave for a while and the opportunity arose to leave with a takeover by a new company and a relocation. I got him to read The Secret, the best book all about the law of attraction. To give him confidence and self-belief that new opportunities will arise so much better than what he was doing before.

I am going to re-read the book myself as well but I wanted to mention law of attraction for its power of enabling you to get what you want. I practised it properly around 3 years ago, as we had fallen into some debt after our house extension. After a few weeks, a cheque arrived in the post for £25k. Yes £25k that I wasn’t expecting. It was a very delayed (20 years) inheritance. The debt was paid off and we continued life with much less stress. I am practising it again is going to bring in money now.

Decluttering Mission

As hubby is at home at the moment he has been put to work. He is going through everything in the house, literally everything. He is working through what we can 1) sell, 2) dump 3) charity donate 4) keep. I am expecting to have a really huge haul to sell on eBay and Facebook shortly. I will be using the advice that Emma Drew gave me when we filmed this YouTube video together.

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.

Easter Holiday Ideas that are money saving or free

Easter Holiday Ideas

The Easter holidays are here and have arrived as a bit of a surprise for us. Mainly meaning that I havn’t really planned it properly from a work or children point of view. Last week was my birthday week, so much time was taken up with birthday fun and party planning. However, here are some no fail idea to keep the children amused during the Easter holidays that require little spending of money or are free. Writing this post has helped me plan out the holidays.

Baking at home

We love baking in our house and will often spend some time on a Sunday afternoon baking a cake or making some biscuits. Here are a few that I have tried recently with the boys, normally Josh.

A few weeks back we made Easter cake, it was the most yummy fudgy cake and we plopped in some mini easter eggs for a chocolate surprise as you bit through the cake. Here is the recipe and link to our vlog on YouTube.

One of our most favourite recipes ever is chocolate chip cookies and we have a most amazing recipe for these on my blog. Is there anything better than warm gooey cookies?

Crafty time

Crafty time is something we often do and I have 2 huge boxes of bits I collect for the boys to be creative with. Coloured paper, glitter, stickers. I love to print out pictures for the boys as well. Handily I have a great Epson Ecoprinter that run off pots of ink, and it will print 4000 pages ebfore the ink runs out!! Handy as I always used to hate printing out things when I had the old regular ink cartridge printer.

We have already made our Easter bonnet in this house. Josh created this pink birdnest. We used all sorted, stuffing from a recent goodie bag from a Mrs Mummypenny job, feathers from a feather boa, also a create your own Easter bonnet set from Aldi.

Make Use of Clubcard Vouchers and Nectar Points

I have a Tesco Clubcard and a Nectar card that I use in applicable spending. I have a Tesco credit card for all our regular monthly purchases, food, petrol, bits for the boys, eating out. This means I get around £20 worth of clubcard vouchers each quarter. I use my Nectar card whenever I shop at Sainsbury’s, Debenhams, Argos and the many other shops that use Nectar as their loyalty scheme.

Using these vouchers is a brilliant way to help with Easter holiday fun as you can exchange you vouchers and points for days out with the children. Here are a few ideas for uses with the Nectar card

  • 500 Nectar Points can redeem £5 off a ticket for Madam Tussauds and Warwick Castle, Legoland Windsor
  • 500 Nectar points gets you £2.50 off the total ticket price at Vue cinemas
  • 500 Nectar points saves you £3.75 on a meal at Pizza Express
  • Nectar card holders can save up to £30 off Safari tickets at Longleat Safari Park

Check out the fab range of bargain Easter fun toys at Aldi this holiday

Aldi have some bargain toys available to keep the children amused over the easter holidays, they have something for everyone all available from this Thursday 6th April.

We have been trying out the skateboard, which Josh says is the best present he has ever had. He has been out on it every days since it arrived and has just about learnt how to ride it standing up. Jack adores the skwooshi stretchable dough. We have 3 D fun lab where the dough can be pumped through and moulded into cars and shapes. Perfect for the little ones. Of course the colours are already mixed up and they no longer so yellow, red and purple! We have also been sent a kite, just waiting for a windy day to try that one out.

Treasure hunt/nature trail

A perfect free thing to do on a bright spring day is to head out for a nature walk. To keep the boys amused I like to send them on a hunt for things whilst we are out. This is a little list I have prepared for later this week.

  • A daffodil
  • A blackbird
  • An oak tree
  • A dog
  • A field of corn
  • A flat skimmer stone
  • A pheasant
  • Stickman
  • A white flower
  • A branch of holly

A trip to the coast

I was brought up by the sea, I lived in Penzance until I was 18. I love the sea and the beach and its just the most perfect place to spend time with children. The beach means endless and free entertainment for the kids. Why not head off on a day trip to the coast and spend the day building sandcastles, chasing a kite around a beach and paddling in the ‘warm’ sea.


Please share your freebie or money saving ideas for Easter for other parent to be inspired by.

5 frugal things post 23

5 Frugal things post 23 – My 40th Birthday Week

5 Frugal Things Post 23

So this week has definitely NOT been frugal!! On Wednesday I turned 40..the big birthday finally arrived. I tried to lace a tiny bit of money saving into the extravagance of a 40th birthday week, I am sure you will appreciate my efforts.

Tuesday Blogger Event & 40th Birthday meal

5 frugal things post 23On Tuesday I attended an amazing event with Tena in the Soho Hotel. It was a champagne reception followed by a Burlesque dancing class and then some nibbles. What a stunning5 frugal things post 23 location that I can’t believe that I have never been to before! The hotel has the coolest vibe and feel to it. We had an amazing time, I got to spend a few hours with this lovely lady, a blog post is coming next week. The frugal bit is that my travel expenses were covered by Tena and I was coming into London anyway to meet my university best friends for out 40th birthday meal, so I saved £17 on my train fare that I would have had to pay for;-)

Dollars for Holiday

Hubby and I and a few friends are off to Vegas in 2 weeks time for my 40th holiday celebration and I had been debating when to get my dollars. I knew there was a potential shift in currency on Wednesday with the Brexit announcement so I bought some currency on Tuesday the day before. I was with my friend Neil who mentioned Best Foreign Exchange knows of a great currency place on London Wall near Liverpool Street, You can order online for a great deal and then pick it up 5 minutes later, a better deal than if you just walked in off the street. I got a rate of 1.245. Turns out the rate hasn’t moved much but at least I got a great deal on the dollars. (Never mind the exchange rate was 1.4 this time last year…)

My 40th Birthday

Wednesday was my birthday and we celebrated going to Cambridge for the day for a meal at the amazing Midsummer house. Not frugal at all, and regular reader will know we are partial to the odd michelin starred restaurant. But it did involve frugality let me tell you. I used our Two Together railcard for the train so it cost us £20 return rather than £30. And we walked the 1.5miles from train station to restaurant and back. 13k steps done on my birthday!!

Check out this amazing cake that my friend Nicky made!!

5 frugal things post 23

Poundland birthday prep

I did the party shop today on Frugal Friday for cleaning bits and nibbles (all you are getting if you are reading this as party goer is crisps and nuts!!), all from Aldi. I’ve been doing some video for Aldi recently, here is the most recent cheese tasting video. Then I popped to Poundland to see what party bits they had. I needed throwaway bowls, £1 for 25 perfect. I also got glow sticks, 20 for £1, and some balloon weights. I already had my balloons and helium canister from Amazon.

5 frugal things post 23

Competitions I have featured this week on Mrs Mummypenny

You have to be in it to win it!! I wrote a wicked post yesterday about goal setting and how it has helped me through my life. I shared some of the goals I have for Mrs Mummypenny. The post is part of a campaign for Zurich who are running the most awesome competition to win £5000 to put towards your life goal. Its a competition where you need to share your life goal so the more creative you are the better the chance you have:-) I have learnt this from Super Lucky Di Coke, the competition queen.

Also to be in with a chance of winning £330, the team from Smart Money People are looking for review of financial products. All you need to do is answer literally a couple of questions, I know, I have entered;-) to be entered into the competition.

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.



Goal setting to achieve success and your dreams with Zurich

Goal setting to achieve success and your dreams with Zurich

Goal setting to achieve success has always been extremely important in my life. It has helped shape my direction in life, my motivation and my desire to achieve. I remember as far back as the age of 10 when I opened my first bank account and started saving up to buy a computer, I have always had a goal in mind and worked hard to achieve it. I have picked out a few key goal setting moments from my life to share the goals and the achievements.

Getting the best job after leaving university

Financial security has always been very important to me. In my teens, my parents passed away. I was provided for until my education ended but then I was on my own. It was up to me to find the best job possible to provide financial security.

I had chosen a great university and was studying maths so was in a good place to secure that fabulous job. Whilst at university I did a sandwich degree which gave me the best experience for the graduation job process.

I worked hard at university and secured my 2:1. With all my experience and results from university I was perfectly placed to secure my first graduate job with HSBC in London. It was also a job where I would be studying for an accountancy qualification so progression and more financial security was always on my mind. So first big life goal was achieved at the age of 22.

Owning the Perfect house

A goal for many years was to own our perfect house, with everything as we wanted it, but also by creating value and an asset. It was a long journey to owning the perfect house – it took time, planning and the building of money to get there. I bought my first house when I was 25 with a partner, this house was sold when that relationship broke up and a bit of profit was put into a small 2-bedroom house in Knebworth that I owned by myself.

I met my now husband, 2 babies arrived and suddenly the two-bedroom house wasn’t big enough for our family of 4. We chose wisely and moved to a three-bedroom house in the same village with room to extend. Baby number three arrived and a bigger house of our design was now essential and my second big life goal was put into plan.

Our goal was to have a four-bedroom house with two bathrooms and a nice outside space for our three boys. We drew up plans for our dream home and then planned the finances. We released some equity from the house and cashed in a stocks and shares ISA that I had been invested in every month for 12 years. I was so pleased that I had made that decision with my first months’ pay to open that ISA.

The shell and roof is complete

By Spring 2003 we had almost a brand-new house after it was extended, redecorated, refloored, new bathrooms, new kitchen, new astro-turfed garden. We had achieved a huge life goal and had the perfect house that was exactly what we needed with our family of five.


Owning my Own Successful Business and Future Goals

My big life goal now is to make a success of my business Mrs Mummypenny. I have a five-year plan of which I am two years into. I want to have turnover of £1m by my fifth year of trading. This sounds ambitious, but I really think with goals you should dream big and work hard to achieve them. Hey if I reach £500k rather than £1m then I have done amazingly!!

My Mummypenny was born as a business in September 2015, so I am half way through year 2 and it’s going so well. Starting my own business was a recent goal. Life with three children and a full-time employed job in London was proving difficult and I wanted freedom, flexibility and control and the dream soon transpired that running my own business was the only way to achieve this.

How will I reach my business goals? Well looking at current trajectory I am doing good, it’s looking like my year 2 turnover will be maybe seven times higher than year 1. Year three should again see a jump of 2-3 times my year 2 turnover. The path to success is looking bright.

How am I going to reach this goal? Firstly, it’s all about taking that big goal of £1m and breaking it down into smaller more achievable chunks. I will set quarterly goals and also weekly and daily goals. For Q1 this year my aim was to make £100 per day. I agreed this goal and shared it with friends and I regularly give updates particularly to other trusted bloggers on how I am doing.

There will be some days where I make nothing but then other days where I might make £500, but the target and goal for the week is always there to make £500. An interesting thought process is this, if I reach £500 by say Tuesday I don’t give up. There is a part of my mind that feels more relaxed but I keep on going for more work. The feeling when you end a week smashing your target is the best feeling ever.

My advice is take a big goal and break is down into smaller more achievable chunks. Make your goals SMART, specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely. Tell people your goals who can hold you accountable. They can celebrate your success when you smash your goals and help to generate ideas if said plans are not going your way.

What are your life goals? What goals have you achieved in life that you are super proud of?

Zurich’s Future You Competition

Zurich is helping people to achieve their life goals by running a fabulous competition.

The #shareyourgoal competition will reward four winners with £5,000 to put towards their life goal, a bespoke life-goal experience and a financial assessment. To enter you must share a description, photo, or video of your life goal using #shareyourgoal as part of your post or tweet, or comment on the Zurich Facebook page..

All competition winners will be announced by April 17. Full competition terms and conditions are available on the Zurich website.

This is a collaborative post with Zurich.

Tax Free Childcare – Introduction to the new Schemes for 2017

Tax Free Childcare

The cost of childcare is often a deal breaker for parents wanting to return to work. Parents for years have been weighing up the costs of childcare versus what they earn. Sometime it’s just not worth it, so many mums in particular stay at home until the youngest child is at school.

I have always returned to full time employed work after my babies were born and from 2008 to 2015 I have always paid a lot for childcare. At my most expensive time, I was paying £1200 per month with Jack as a baby, and before and after school care for Dylan and Josh. I remember when I was looking for a job when Josh was 6 months old, the job I found had to pay at least 50k to make it feasible to afford to pay the bills as well as the childcare.

I used a nursery for 6 months when Dylan my first child was little. This was a rather expensive and inflexible so we swopped over to a childminder and have been with the same person for 8 years now. We are more than happy with our children in this childminder setting. The costs are lower with much more flexibility and it feel like a more caring environment. The childminder option also gives the option of before and after school car with drops off and pickups.

The government is introducing two new schemes this year that should make childcare more affordable so I want to share the facts with you and my thoughts.

Tax Free Childcare. Pay £8 get a £2 bonus

Two million working families will be eligible for Tax-Free Childcare. Go to this link to pre-register for updates as to when you can join the plus there is a handy calculator that will tell you what you are entitled to. It will be gradually rolled out, with parents of children under two invited to enter the scheme first. By the end of the year, all eligible parents will be able to receive government top-ups of £2 for every £8 that a parent pays into their Tax-Free Childcare account. This will be open to all working parents across the UK with children under 12, or under 17 if disabled.

The government will contribute up to £2000 per year per child. This can be used to pay for childcare at any provider if they register with the government service. To be eligible you both must be earning at least £120 per week and less than £100k per year.

This feels simpler than the previous childcare vouchers scheme where money was taken from your pre-tax earnings and you have more control over what you pay into the scheme for a top up. You could overpay for a few months and build up balance that might pay for the more expensive childcare needed during the school holidays. I will be signing up and paying money in to get a 20% top up on my childcare costs. I don’t get any relief at all on my childcare bills so this is gratefully received.

Free 30 hours’ childcare for 3 and 4 year olds.

At the moment, we all get 15 hours’ free childcare at participant childcare providers from the term after they turn 3. This is being increased to 30 hours. From the high-level information that the politicians are talking about it feels like a win for working parents.

The scheme will again be administered through the same childcare website from the government.

This scheme comes into force just as my youngest starts school so I will miss out on the offering but I’m not convinced it will be that widely available.

My youngest goes to Pre-school that is at capacity for children numbers with a waiting list of two years. How is a setting like this going to increase the childcare from 15 hours to 30 hours when they are already at capacity, child and staff wise? I would assume that many popular pre-schools will be in this situation as well. There is talk of combining childcare settings with the 30 hours being split between maybe a preschool and a childminder? Childminders are going to have to evolve to start accepting this form of payment for childcare.

This 30 hours of childcare is also just for the term time so there is another 14 weeks of school holidays where childcare costs will be payable if parents can’t arrange cover or take holiday themselves.

It feels like a great headline idea, but in practise I will be interested to see how it plays out in reality. I joined a discussion panel on Share Radio today to discuss the schemes, take a listen here

Here are the summary facts

Who is eligible?
Tax-Free Childcare 30 hours’ free childcare
Child age Under 12

Under 17 for disabled children

3 and 4 year olds
Income Parents need to be working – each parent needs earn £120 a week and less than £100,000 per annum.
Geography UK-wide England
Employment Available regardless of parent’s employer, and also available if self-employed.


Can it be used with other childcare offers? Not in addition to Employer-Supported Childcare, tax credits or Universal Credit Yes, can be used with other Government support such as Employer-Supported Childcare, tax credits or Universal Credit


Do you think these changes are going to save you any money?

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 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.