Monday Money #38 Holiday is Booked & January Spending diary

Monday Money

Winter has arrived! The UK turned white with snow and the transport system fell apart! Here in Hertfordshire it wasn’t too bad, not even bad enough for school to be cancelled much to the annoyance of the boys! It also meant all football was cancelled, including the very rare occasion of a game five minutes from home, Stevenage versus Cambridge. Normally we are driving around the country, like next weekend which is Sutton on Saturday then Liverpool on Sunday!

Thankfully it was a quieter week with no travel for me anywhere, and a just a few deadlines. January ended and I closed off the month with the best month ever for turnover. This allowed me pay off a big chunk of my debt, leaving me with just £4,600 left to re-pay. And I contributed to my pension for the first time in nearly four years as well.

My Easter Holiday is Booked

As well as putting money aside for credit card repayment I have been putting money aside for two holidays. One with my best friend and one with the family. I am off to Las Vegas (again!!) with my best mate Neil and we booked it this weekend.

I have been checking the prices for a while now and they constantly change with flight prices seemingly changing a lot. When I looked last week, it was looking like around £1800 each with direct flights, this is a lot for five days in Vegas. I was checking the Virgin Holidays website and Expedia and found that Expedia was coming out much cheaper.

I checked again on Sunday 3rd February and noticed there was a Topcashback boost of 5% for one day only. The dates were checked, hotels and flights and I found direct BA flights were lots cheaper than Virgin plus the times were a lot better. The holiday came to £1360 each.

Take off the 5% cashback for booking via Topcashback and the price goes down to £1300. Plus, I paid for it using my American express card that gives another 1% cashback. Taking the cost down to £1287.

If you are thinking about Vegas check out my top tips, this is going to be my 10th visit to the grown-up playground. I love it!

Car Servicing and Insurance

March is an expensive time of the year for cars. I need to renew two insurance policies for 1st March, and I pay in full each year to avoid the extra charges that are added on when you pay monthly. I am hopeful that the cost reduces a lot this year. Last year was the first year of insuring two cars and we didn’t have any no claims discount on one of them. Am hoping one year of no claims will make a difference to the price we paid. I recently heard Martin Lewis talk about the best time to look into car insurance renewals and it was a few weeks before renewal date. A job for this week then. I will report back.

As well as insurance we must service one of the cars, one has already been done a few months ago due to high mileage (see previous comments about football!). Did you know that you don’t have to use the dealer you bought the car from to do the servicing to keep the service record updated? We use our neighbour and friend Adam Henderson of AH Autos, Welwyn Garden City. He takes the car in the morning and drops it back in the evening and services the car for at least £100 less than the Toyota garage would charge and with much less hassle. Adam is an official registered mechanic who can update service records.

Trainer Shopping

I have been thinking about getting new trainer for a while now. Is there a thing where you should change your trainers after running a certain number of miles? I worked out that I ran around 200 miles in current pair over the course of 2018, so it has got to be time for a new pair?

Occasionally I am paid for some work in Amazon vouchers and have a balance sitting in my Amazon account currently, this comes in handy for times like Christmas or birthdays or gifting something to myself. I found some nice purple under armour trainers for £65, switched the colour option to blue and pink and those were £50. Ordered. Let’s hope they fit.

January spending diary has been analysed and sent off

Faith and I swopped our January spending diaries, and I did a little bit of analysis before sending it over. I split it into categories. I will save the detail for a blog post, but this is the first time I have done such a detailed spending diary exercise for years and it was fascinating and worrying!

January was a very expensive month for things for the children, where I spent nearly £500 on sports, after school clubs and clothes. We really struggle to keep the cost of food down, the groceries were £440 and despite making a real effort to not spend on eating out, nearly £200 was still spent there. Including £30 on coffee, make that £360 a year in coffee. I must take a coffee from home more often!

Discount Shopping Centres

Is there ever a month where I don’t have to buy shoes for the boys? This week Jack needed new trainers, so we headed to our usual place, the Hatfield Galleria discount outlet. One of the shops is Nike who always have great deals on trainers for the boys. We found some great ones for £18 reduced from £28. Happy with that. The next shoes to buy are for Dylan whose school shoes are falling apart. It is never ending.

Here is hoping that February is a better spending month than January!

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Lynn Beattie

Aka Mrs MummyPenny

Personal Finance Expert

I write about personal finance made simple, lifestyle choices that will save you time and money, as well as products and services that offer great value.

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