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5 frugal things post 35

5 frugal things Post 35 – Hen Dos, Festivals and Rings




 5 Frugal Things post 35

First an apology as I know my 5 frugal things posts are popular. I missed a week last week, but as a bonus that means you get two weeks’ worth of frugal things I have done!

The past two weeks have been extremely busy at the weekends, one of which was a hen do in Cornwall. The weeks times have been busy work wise but I haven’t had to get the train anywhere, a nice rare treat of not needing any additional childcare and plenty of time to focus on writing and planning for the future, including my fabulous new logo ( thank you Super Lucky Di Coke, competition queen of the UK). New website design to come soon (thank you Emma Drew, money making blogger queen of the UK for helping with this choice). Also some major life decisions have been made which feels good.



Hen Do

I’ll start with the hen do as it was SUCH a bargain time. The whole weekend cost £116. 3 days in West Cornwall including accommodation, food, drink, theatre, dinner out and petrol. It was a 330-mile drive to St. Just via Bristol and Exeter to collect two of the hens, money saving part 1, we shared the petrol. Total cost for 700 miles driven was £80. I paid £40 as I lived so far away and the other shared the petrol money. Another hen was drinking so did the evening driving meaning we saved on taxi costs as well.

west cornwall

The mobile homes and Tesco shopping and Minack theatre tickets were covered by the £60 each that we gave to the bride who booked everything. The only extra we paid was £16.50 to the Meadery each for dinner. It was such an amazing weekend which you can read more about here.

Aldi Bargains

I have found a new good time to hit Aldi and whizz around as fast as possible picking up bargains. 9pm on Thursday night is good. No people, no queues. It was great. And I found some brilliant bits. Their camping range is available right now. Get tents for £20 or blow up beds for £10 or my personal favourite that I use all the time a hammock for £39.99. It’s a permanent fixture in our garden and I film lots of YouTube videos from it!!

They have a nautical home range with the most beautiful home wear pieces, bedding, lights, candles. I picked up three Yankee candle mimic products. They smell the same and cost £1.99. I love my candles so I was really happy with this purchase.

 

Moving to a new house

We are moving to a new house and I am doing lots of investigations into cost effective ways of moving. I have been comparing the cost of estate agent fees of high street versus online. There is such a difference. We have friends who own an estate agents in our village that we would use to sell our house through but that would cost £4,500 if we paid 0.75% plus VAT.




I have also spoken to a company called eMoov who will sell the house for £700. They are online, they take the pictures and advertise on Right move etc. They also chase the sale though. Interestingly they valued our house at the same value as the high street agent. It would be our responsibility to be here and sell the house to buyers who looked around. It could be a big way of saving money. I wrote about the costs of moving house a while back on the blog

Going to a Festival

We are off to Standon calling at the end of July. Festivals can cost the earth but not for us! I wrote about my excitement here and learnings from last year. The benefits of this website mean we can save a huge amount of money. Firstly, the tickets are free of charge, saving us around £400 for weekend camping tickets. I do a fair bit of work for those tickets, blog posts plus the weekend at the festival will include lots of social media sharing, Facebook live, Instagram etc.

All of the camping gear and clothes has been supplied by Aldi for which I am most grateful for. The cost of the festival will be what we spend when there. Last year we managed to get through £250 but we ate what we wanted, went on all the rides, ate tons of ice-cream. I am sure we can considerably reduce this cost this year by being better prepared with the food and drink that we bring. I can’t wait.

Goldsmiths Ring Resizing and Clubcard vouchers

I finally got around to collecting my rings last week from Goldsmiths. I’ve got three rings, engagement, wedding and eternity and I had a few scary moments of losing them. Losing weight meant that my fingers reduced in size by three sizes! My wedding wing came from Goldsmiths, which I paid for back in 2007 using my Tesco Clubcard vouchers so I did the same ten years on and got them resized using my vouchers. It was £114 for two rings (the eternity ring was a big job as the diamonds would also need to be reset so I decided against that big cost) and I used £36 worth of vouchers x 3 of value to pay for the work. The work cost me £5 for both rings that now fit hurrah.



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5 frugal things post 35

samsung tablet giveaway

Fabulous Samsung Tablet Giveaway

Fabulous Samsung Tablet Giveaway

I am super excited to announce another fabulous collaborative competition brought to you by 10 of the best bloggers in the UK! Clubbing together means that we can offer a very cool prize and this time it’s a Samsung tablet. I am a huge fan of Samsung and have a few things, phone, TV, tablet, fridge, microwave(??). Yes you could say I am a fan. The tablet I have which is a two year old model battery lasts such a long time. It lasts so much longer than the Kindle fire and Hudl, other tablets we have in the house.

Today we are here to celebrate the start of summer, with some fantastic bloggers and I, having teamed up together to offer one of our lucky readers the chance to win a Samsung Galaxy Tab E 9.7”.

For those who are new to collaboration giveaways, they offer us bloggers a chance to giveaway a bigger and better prize than we could alone, with each blogger contributing to the prize fund to offer you an amazing gift.
So who has teamed up to bring to you this prize:

samsung tablet giveaway

Melanie’s Fab Finds | Just Average Jen | The Mighty Duxburys | Mrs MummyPenny | Missing Sleep | Boxes & Swatches | Mother Distracted | EmmaDrew.info | Precious Little Worlds | Futures

So how can you be in with a chance of winning the Samsung Galaxy Tab E 9.7”? Well all you need to do is let us know:
What is your top tip for keeping cool in the summer heat?
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good Luck.
This prize is being administrated by Sarah of UK Bloggers / Life in a Break Down for any issues please contact her at sarah@uk-bloggers.co.uk. For full terms and conditions please view the Rafflecopter widget.

Mrs Mummypenny – Work With Me

Mrs Mummypenny – Work With Me

I would love to work on your company campaign. Thank for visiting my work with me page. I am happy to feature sponsored posts, advertising & social media posts on my Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube channel. Anything I consider must be relevant to the subject area and content of my blog. Personal finance is my blog niche and I also work on lifestyle/family brand campaigns.

Recent campaigns include Aldi, Zurich, Smart Energy GB, Fidelity & Powershop.

I have 3 boys who are 9,7 and 4 so products and brands that work well with them and family life are very much welcomed. We live close to London in Knebworth, Hertfordshire.

Blogging Your Way To Riches

I have co-authored the book Blogging Your Way To Riches so can provide expert advice and comment on the commercial world of blogging. I am available for public speaking, comment and coaching in this area. Please drop me an email on lynn@mrsmummypenny.co.uk

I am available for media work including TV/Radio/Press/Public speaking.

Please contact me for a media pack including all my stats, history and rate card.

Lynn James MD & Founder

Email lynn@mrsmummypenny.co.uk

 

My Plan on how I am going to survive financially without a corporate job…

What Have I Done??!!

I am 38 and have spent most of the past 16 years working for a range of big corporates. Okay so I have had 3 breaks of maternity leave with the boys (not exactly a holiday!)..but 16 years…that is a very long time! On the 30th June I ended my 5 years of employment with EE, handily just in time for the summer holidays. And everyone continues to ask “what am I going to do?”.

2014-05-11 14.56.40

There is a look of shock/admiration/interest when I say I am going to set up my own company and run my own business. I am extremely well set up to do this. Mrs Mummypenny has been my hobby for 2 years now, set up whilst a bit bored on my last maternity leave. Whilst it has been a hobby it’s not been that lucrative. However I can now focus, spend time and write an amazing business plan to kick off Mrs MummyPenny. And I love doing it, I really believe that its a viable business model and I love the fact that I actually help people to save money. One of biggest buzzes that I get every day is when I get a message from a liker or follower telling me how much money they have saved or sharing a money saving tip with me. And people love my blogs and ideas on things to cook, things to do with the children and creative activities. It can be a lonely job, which is not good for a person like me who loves to be around people. So I do spend a good amount of time out and about with the children, researching content for my website. Oh and I do call, email and whatsapp alot!

How I will Maximise My Income

Mrs Mummypenny Income – Website

In my new self employed world I need to make money, I have carefully worked out the household budget and need to make at least £1,800 per month to cover the essential bills such as mortgage, food, utilities, council tax etc. This all needs to come from Mrs Mummypenny and its offshoot businesses streams. To monetise my website I can do things like reviews, receive advertising revenue, recommendations income and selling things from the website. You will see the odd advert of great money saving companies on my website. I have partnered up with companies like Trip Adviser, M&S, Made.com, Topcashback and Money Dashboard so you may see the odd banner with information on offers. Sometimes I work closely with these companies. Money Dashboard have recently featured me as their guest blogger and I answered a few questions for them. There’s no payment of money going on here but they are helping me to build my traffic, and following on twitter/ facebook etc all in return for me writing some content for them. Money Dashboard Interview

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I often recommend services and companies. I love Trussells the Butchers in Knebworth and Church Farm in Arderley and talk about these places often. I know several good builders, beauticians, cake makers, soliciters, accountants I have wide network so will recommend people who are good. All my recommendations will have been bought/tried and tested and I will give you an honest review. Sometimes I review things where I have had a bad experience and have complained…one of my most popular blogs explains how I got a lot of compensation and a huge fruit basket from Npower who messed up my utility bills in 2014! Occasionally I earn revenue from these recommendations, if so this will be disclosed. I am also approached to review things for which I will do a write up on the product and if I think it is money saving and/or good value for money. For example I am off camping August bank holiday and I have been offered this for free in return for an honest and insightful blog with lots of photos for my website and for them to feature on their website. Blogs not yet published include a positive review of RAF Hendon to visit with the children (unpaid, they dont even know I am writing it) and a not so positive view of Ford and their service plan that I have paid £696 into since August 2013. Again they don’t know I’m writing it, but I will tweet them once its published.

Mrs Mummypenny Sales

I am also going to set up a selling page within my website for money saving items like the Mrs Mummypenny Pennies jar. This is my homemade jar..I’m going to work on a more neater version to sell with my creative partner in crime Red jellies and wellies. Watch this space.

Mrs Mummypenny Pennies Jar

I already admin & run Knebworth Items for Sale on facebook. A local community site for buying & selling unwanted household gear. I have so much children’s stuff /toys/ clothes/electrical gear to sell on Facebook, Ebay, gumtree, direct to resellers. And I am working for a client who has lots to sell as well and earn a commission for sales. This is a great revenue stream for the earlier days of Mrs Mummypenny when the revenues are not high enough to pay the bills.

Mrs Mummypenny Cashback

I make full use of cashback websites when purchasing anything online, I am currently waiting on £180 to clear from a recent swop of Broadband from EE to BT and an energy company swop from First Utility to SSE. Topcashback – set up an account

Mrs Mummypenny Help & Support for Small Business Benefits

I am also fully aware of which benefits I can claim at the moment given my unemployed status. I have spoken to the lovely guys at the Stevenage Job centre who are helping me to set up my own business properly. I have a business mentor from a company called Avanta to help me plan the business. They will aid with my business plan and the hundreds of questions I have. In the meantime I am approved to claim JSA. Thank you to my sister for advising me to go for an interview to understand what payments I am due. And yeah I can now claim for child benefit again as my income drops below the tiers of non-payment into payment.

July 28th Plan to fail

How I will Save Cash – And these are things you can all do!

Create a Realistic Budget

The first thing I needed to do was to write a budget, a realistic one. So my friend Excel, yes I love Excel, has helped me to create a list of everything I spend on.  This tells me that I need to earn at least £1800 to ensure everything is covered, from mortgage to life insurance to cash machine withdrawals. Its all in there. Please mail me E-mail Address if you want a copy of the budget template.

Money Dashboard Helps me:-)

Next step was to download a great tool called Money Dashboard to understand what I spend money on to double check if the above mentioned budget is realistic. Money Dashboard combines all your bank accounts/credit cards into one place and analyses your spend. It catagorises your spend and creates brilliant graphs/list/pie charts (my favourite graph). I know last month we overspent on dining & drinking, but then it was hubbys 40th birthday month;-)

July 28th Pie chart

Sign up to Money Dashboard here

Assess spends and reduce where neccessary

Next plan is to assess all my outgoings and work out if I have the best deal going. So far I have

1) reduced my utility spend by £15 per month by switching from First Utility to SSE.

2) saved £3 per month on my home broadband by moving from EE to BT, despite EE being a staff deal, BT still beats it with a cash back offering, see above money I have made.

3) I have no credit cards with interest being paid, all have been switched to interest free for at least the next 2 years.

4) Cancelled Ford Service plan as next service will be done by a mechanic friend for much cheaper cost. saving £23 per month in my direct debits.

5) Mortgage was changed a couple of months back, I changed the term from 16 years to 25 years. Just for the moment when I am not sure what my income will be. Payments reduced by £400 per month.

Spend less on days out with the children

I plan to spend as little as possible on days out with the boys over the summer holidays, check out this blog post for loads of great money saving/free ideas to keep the children amused. Money Saving ideas for the summer holidays

So there you have it, my plan to pay the bills and keep my children fed over the next few months. And if it all goes wrong….well I will probably end up back in the corporate world, maybe on short-term contract..so I can quickly get back to the world of Mrs Mummypenny.

Follow me on Bloglovin

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AND follow me on twitter and instagram @MrsmummypennyUK

Thanks Muchly.

Mrs Mummypenny’s Amazing Scotch Eggs

scotch eggs

It’s been a beautiful Easter holiday so far, so we tool full advantage of the weather yesterday and visited our favourite farm for a long walk around all the animals and of course a trip to the farm shop, Random purchase was a 500g chunk of sausage meat.

I posted to facebook about not really knowing what to do https://www.facebook.com/MrsMummypenny and a liker reminded me of scotch eggs, so here is my attempt. Loosly based on Jamie Olivers recipe with a few shortcuts as I didn’t have all of his more fancy ingredients!

Ingredients
*7 Eggs
*500g sausage meat
*1 table spoon of wholegrain mustard
*spinkle of dried thyme
*sprinkle of dried parsley
*half a nutmeg grated into tiny bits
*salt & pepper
*50g flour
*100g breadcrumbs

Method

*Boil 6 of the eggs for 3-4 minutes, once boiled cool off and peel carefully.
*Take the sausage meat and add the mustard, herbs, nutmeg and salt & pepper and combine.
*Split into 6 equal portions
*Take 3-4 slices of bread and create breadcrumbs, I used my handblender. Leave in bowl.
*Crack the one remaining eggs onto plate and whisk it, add a drop of milk to bulk it out.
*Add the flour to another plate
*2015-04-15 18.31.04
*Next is the only slightly complex bit..I had to read the method a few times!
* Cover your hands in flour
* Take the sausage meat and press it out flat
* 2015-04-15 18.30.46
* Take the egg and wrap the sausage meat around it, ensure there are no holes.
* If you get sticky..add more flour to hands
* Cover the scotch egg in the egg mixture, then the breadcrumbs, then back into the egg and back into the breadcrumbs again.
* 2015-04-15 18.31.15
* Next is the cooking
* Heat up 1- 1.5 litres of groundnut oil to around 150c/300f..I added a chunk of bread to it and when it sizzled away I knew it was hot enough..or use a cooking thermometer!
* 2015-04-15 18.44.40
* Add the scotch eggs and cook until golden brown in colour, around 5 mins, keep turning them as they cook.
* Drain off the fat using a slotted spoons and place in a kitchen roll lined bowl to drain excess oil.
* The eggs are amazing when warm with a nice green salad. And they went lovely with coleslaw:-)
* 2015-04-15 18.58.46

scotch eggs

Estimated cost to be around 80p per scotch egg.

https://www.facebook.com/MrsMummypenny
@mrsmummypennyuk

Free Ideas to keep the kids amused during the holidays

I posted this last year in the middle of the summer holidays, a good article to refresh for 2014:-) By now mummies and daddies might be tearing their hair out, so here is some inspiration for free and fun activities for the summer holidays…….

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So according to media this week it costs around £1200 to keep a child entertained through the summer holidays. Really??? I have 3 boys so does mean I’m going to spend £3600? ( I don’t think so..although childcare is costing quite a bit to fair)

Free Stuff

Craft activity at home

I have a good stock of this stuff at home as I used to be obsessed with making cards..and I never threw anything away! The boys love cutting up old christmas cards and re sticking the bits onto new cards. Anything with glitter. Stickers. They love to paint. Basically anything messy they love. Just make sure you put some old newspaper down on the floor and on the table;-)

What about using the recycling stuff, now our councils are obsessed with us recycling everything..save a few plastic containers/plastic bottles/cardboard…clean it up (;-)) and let them loose with their creative minds.

A friend recently shared with me ‘making potions’…let them loose with a bucket in the garden. With mud, sand, water, leaves, fairy liquid….alot of fun. But as Suzi pointed out, dont let them wee in it;-)

And the good old paddling pool and hose pipe. Quick make the most of these before a hose pipe ban is introduced. Our paddling pool was £4.50 from tesco last year…hours of fun are to be had by all 3 boys.

Childrens Centre

Check out the activities at your local sure start childrens centre. Our local one has tons going on over the summer hols. A big campaign at the moment seems to be getting the kids out to the local parks, so 3 times a week there are fun activities-play rangers at the local park over lunchtime. Every mon/wed and fri And yeah this is free.

Treasure Hunts

Try out Geocaching. Its a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location. You’ll find treats in the treasure chest..but you must take something along to replace what you’ve taken. Check out the website for more details..

http://www.geocaching.com/guide/

Splash Parks

There are alot of these popping up all over the place in Hertfordshire, so I hope they are also being build in other counties. We are very lucky to have a lovely enclosed one in Stevenage, Fairlands Park and another partly enclosed but very safe one in St Albans Verulamium Park. There is also a new one just built in Letchworth, but alas not enclosed so you always need to carefully watch your kids. Baldock too.

Beach

You can’t beat the beach, I grew up in Cornwall and spent every weekend at the beach….so I love it. And living where I do in Hertfordshire boy do I miss it. Cant wait for our week in Cornwall at end of August to spend every day at the beach..be it rain or shine its still fun with the kids.

Its worth the trip from here too, Frinton on Sea, Walton on the Naze, Whitstable….a few nice ones in essex/kent. Am sure theres plenty of other nice ones. Here is Norfolk, near Great Yarmouth.

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Sport Stuff

Go to the park and play sport. At the park two weekends ago, DJ, JJ and I counted all the following sports going on..tennis, volleyball, baseball, football, cricket, badmington….all with cheap stuff bought from the supermarket. Maybe not free but inexpensive.

London Free Stuff

An array of musuems are free to visit in london, Natural history museum, V&A, Science Museum. All very good for kids, busy in the holiday so get there early. And the trip on the train into town is half the excitment. Kids under 5 travel for free on the train dont forget! And get a family railcard to save even more.

Have a brilliant summer holiday and do post your ideas if you have more..Mrs Mummypenny would love to hear from you!

When Do Things Get Easier as a Parent?

Just a bit of fun……I had a lightbulb moment recently when Jack our 18 month old climbed in the car by himself and climbed up into his seat:-) Cant quite do the seatbelt up but this does make my life ALOT easier! Its the small things and when they add up…. life becomes easier. Jack pictured is the youngest of my 3 boys, I have Josh 4 and Dylan 6.

Child drinking by themselves

Here’s my top ten.  

1) The day your child is old enough to open car door, jump in and do up their own seat belt.

2) The day when they can wipe their own bum clean after a number 2.

3) The day they can get their own cup and pour their own glass of water.

4) When your 2nd or 3rd or 4th(!) child is old enough to help mummy by fetching nappies, baby wipes, clean baby gros, muslin cloths.

5) When all your children are out of nappies, please be soon!

6) When your children successfully select and put on their own clothes.

7)  When they can feed themselves.

8) When you have so many children they play nicely together and keep each other amused, okay playing nicely doesn’t happen often…

9) When you can leave them at parties and not have to stay to look after them.

10) When they know how the remote control, dvd player and netflix works so you have a lie in:-)

Haha….I’ve not reached many of these milestones yet.

 

There are new rules when applying for a mortgage/remortgage. Explained here.

James-043-m1

 

We are very fortunate to have finally finished the extension work on our house. So I have taken the opportunity to get the house valued and with the new value we will have a much higher proportion of equity value. Which should equal a better mortgage rate.

So the good news is that our house has been valued at £110k more than it was worth 6 months ago. Considerably more than we spent on the extension so we are really happy. My hubby did a great job in project managing the extension and we’ve ended up with a great living space. But our immediate thoughts were blimey maybe we can sell it and maybe reinvest in another house with a bigger garden (for the 3 boys and football!) and maybe get a bit bigger a house for a bit more money. Surely the bank will lend us more considering the equity we have built up??

I bank with First Direct and our existing mortgage is with them too. I called them last night to find out how much additional borrowing we could apply for..to help make the moving house decision easier.

Then the 100’s of questions started and 1 hour on the phone just for a pre-application! So changes to mortgage applications came in a few weeks ago and because its early days the mortgage companies are being ultra cautious. I had to declare every single regular expense before they will consider affordability to repay a mortgage.

So I had to declare..

1) Firstly basic income only, they will not take account of any bonuses.
2) Existing credit card debt for hubby and me, despite it being on 0% deal
3) Childcare costs, a biggy for me at around £1000 per month
4) All utilities, gas, electricity, water, phone, broadband, council tax, mobile phones
5) All insurances, life, health, car and home insurance
6) Gym membership, contact lenses
7) Oh and how can I forget food shopping.

So after all of this I’m told we can only actually borrow an additional 40k on top of what we already owe.

Decision made we are staying put:-) And maybe now we knock down the garage/ or turn it into a play type room.

I also asked what the impact on our additional borrowing would be if we didn’t have £1000 per month childcare to pay. Apparently we would be able to borrow an additional £140k rather than £40k. One day my childcare bills will reduce, but with the youngest being 18 months, not quite yet.

So we are staying put in our newly extended and sparkly new house and I will re-mortgage, but maybe not with First Direct. They are so busy that they can’t offer me a consultation appointment to discuss rates with me until 3rd June. Bad service First Direct. I shall be making a complaint about that.