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#SaveMoneyMonday – Easy ways to save….

SaveMoneyMonday

I like to think I’m quite good about finding ways to save money and hunting out a bargain but when it comes to saving, I’ve still got a long way to go. I do have a few little ways that I save so I thought I’d share them with you today….

First of all, if you’re saving up for something you need to have somewhere to keep the money so you’re less tempted to use it for other things. My bank allows me to set up a couple of savings accounts that I can transfer money into it from my current account and if I use one of their ATMs it gives me the option to choose which account I withdraw the money from using my normal debit card.  My preferred way to save for smaller things though is just in a purse that I keep at home (I know not the best way but I like it) because I can just pop any extra money I have into it as and when I have any.

All loose change (apart from 50ps, £1 and £2 coins) are emptied out of my purse and out of Mr Frugal’s wallet at the end of most days.  We have three pretty vases on the kitchen windowsill so the coins are popped into one of those until all three are full and then we take it to one of those change machines in the local supermarket to cash it in.  I know they charge about 8p in the pound but our bank doesn’t have a change machine like some banks do and it’s so much easier to not have to wait till we get so many of each coins before we can bag them up.  I then use the voucher we get for my shopping and draw the amount I saved out of the bank to pop in my money purse.

If you’re a regular checker of your bank balance online, you could try something I used to do which is to transfer the pence amount of your bank balance into your savings account every time you log on.  So if you had £21.79, you would transfer the 79p to your savings account and although it might not seem like much, it soon adds up and you won’t miss such a small amount.  I don’t do this now as I don’t go on my online banking so much but when I did, it was brilliant.

I pay for most things by debit card these days but one thing I do pay for in cash is my weekly shopping and any top ups through the week.  I draw out a certain amount on a Sunday, do my shopping and keep the rest in a separate coin purse in my handbag.  Anything I have left over the following Sunday is popped into my savings purse.

As far as keeping track of my savings (or lack of), I’m quite visual and it motivates me to see and track my savings which is why I have a free app on my phone called Savings Goals.  I add any money I save to the app and then when I click on Savings Goal, it tells me how much I’ve saved in total and how much I have left to save.  The app itself could probably do lots more but I just downloaded the free version as that one does all I need it to do really.

This is my current update, I’m working towards £100 at the minute to go towards for a night away with my friend:

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How do you save your pennies?

The hardest decision of my life….

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A little over a year ago, I was faced with the hardest parenting decision that I’ve had to make.

The decision that I had to make was which secondary school to apply to for Miss Frugal.  There were two choices really – the Academy less than five minutes walk from our house with the not so great Ofsted report or the school that’s further away with the excellent Ofsted report.

On paper, it looked like an easy decision but in reality, it was so much harder.  I had to take into account that there wasn’t a single one of her classmates that would be going to the school further away so she wouldn’t know anyone at all which was a major concern as she can be quite shy with new people.  I also had to consider the fact that the other school was catholic (which we’re not) and that the other students travel in from the surrounding areas so even when she made friends, they probably wouldn’t live close enough for her to spend time with outside of school until she was a bit older.

I spent weeks going backwards and forwards and I ended up writing a list of all of the good and bad things that I knew about each school.  I spend ages writing my list but ultimately, it came down to the two words that were in the good column for the other school :

BETTER EDUCATION

I understand that it’s as much to do with the pupils and the support they get at home as it is to do with the school but when the school is so much better, it follows that the quality of education is going to be so much better, doesn’t it?

We applied, knowing that only around 20 non faith students each year from the whole area get in and kept our fingers crossed – me, that she got in and her, I suspect hoping that she didn’t!

The email came at 3am in March this year and was waiting for me when I got up the next day.  I was absolutely over the moon and she seemed happy enough although a little subdued and overwhelmed at the idea of leaving the friends she’s had since nursery and moving to a whole new school away from them.

I then spent the next six months going backwards and forwards worrying that I’d done the wrong thing and at one point, I almost declined the place and applied for the other school.   But I didn’t and in September of this year, she set off for her first day at her new school, very nervous and looking way too little for her blazer.

That was a little over two months and the difference in her is amazing.

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She is just so much more confident which means that she can do things she was reluctant to do before – things like going to Zumba with one of my friends each week and joining the gym to go on her own twice a week wouldn’t have even been considered before but now she does them both and loves them.

She loves everything about school and even enjoys her homework – it amazes me every day how happy she is!

I stopped myself from asking the all important question until a couple of weeks ago because, no matter that I knew how happy she was, I really dreaded hearing her answer.  I finally asked her if she was glad that she had gone to this school and not the one with all her friends and I could have cried when she told me that she was.  She said she loved school and her friends and gave me a big hug!

I’m so pleased I made the right decision but I know I’m lucky as it could have easily gone the other way.

How do you make decisions like this?

Some people do what I did and write a pros and cons list or ask the advice from your friends and family.  Others might go with their gut feeling or take time to reflect on their options.  Some people might even ask a psychic for advice or base a decision on a simple toss a coin.  But ultimately, you don’t know what’s going to happen whatever you decide do you?

Why did no-one tell me being a parent would be so hard? ;-)

Disclosure: in collaboration with The Circle

Tesco Clubcard Christmas boost….

How’s everyone getting on with Christmas shopping?

I decided that I wanted everything bought and wrapped by the 1st December this year and I’m not too doing badly at the moment.  I have all of Master Frugal’s (apart from a couple of things) wrapped and tucked away and I’m actually just about to open a glass of wine and wrap his sisters tonight which is a vast improvement on my usual last minute Christmas Eve wrapping session!

I’ve been quite sensible this year and have been buying things for the kids each payday since the Summer so I feel quite organised there but I do have a few other presents to buy for my nieces as well as a couple of secret Santa presents to buy/make and a present for my lovely neighbour.

As this is an expensive time of year, I thought I’d try and use some of my Tesco Clubcard points to help pay for some of it and I’m so pleased to discover that I have £15 worth of points left.  I wasn’t expecting to see many at all as I used them to pay for lots of out days out as £2.50 worth of points was worth £10 off the entrance fees to some of the places we visited.

I was even more pleased with this as Tesco Clubcard Boost is on at the moment so I can double my vouchers to make them worth £30 which will cover the majority of my last little bits thankfully.  It’s really easy to Boost your Clubcard points and you can do it really quickly online and get your vouchers emailed to you whether you want to shop online or in your local store.

I’ve had a quick look on the Tesco site and you can even use them on lots of things that are already discounted.  The Health and Beauty gift sets seem amazing value – look at this one for my Secret Santa present reduced to just £2.50:

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And what about this for my neighbour? It looks like it costs much more than £6:

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And for my nieces, I love the idea of a board game for them but I’m spoilt for choice.  Do I go for a classic like Cluedo which is reduced to just £11.33?

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Or something much more modern, like Bop It Beats which is the cheapest I’ve seen it anywhere at £15?

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Whichever game I choose, I can buy one of my nieces presents as well as my neighbours and my secret santa using nothing but the points I’ve earned for spending where I would have spent anyway!

Now that’s a good deal!

And I’m giving away 500 Tesco Clubcard points (worth up to £20 depending how you use them) to one of you lucky people too.  All you need to do is leave a comment below to tell me who you still have left to buy for.

Easy as that!

There are a couple of other options if you want extra entries but none are essential. ;-)

Good Luck.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 
Disclosure: Tesco are sending me some vouchers in exchange for hosting this competition.

Secret Santa on a budget – 10 presents for under a fiver….

I love a good Secret Santa with my friends at work but we generally opt for a lower budget because, let’s face it, Christmas is expensive enough as it is.

We’ve had a year where we set the budget at £1 per person with the idea being that you had to get the most creative gift that you could for that amount. We got all sorts of gifts from candles to cactus plants dressed up as Santa and it was much more fun than opening the inevitable chocolates, biscuits and alcohol that we would have no doubt seen if we’d had a higher budget.

This year, we’re going for a slightly higher budget of £5.00 which should allow for some more creative presents and seeing as none of my friends at work know about my blog then I’m free to share my ideas for Secret Santa presents on here with you all – all of them can be done for less than £5.00.

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A Selfie Stick – I bought one of these for Miss Frugal for her Birthday and paid about £3.99 inc postage for it from eBay and she LOVES it.  As a 12 year old who’s mission in life seems to be to take a selfie everywhere we visit, it’s just perfect and it’s a really funny gift as well so well worth considering!

A mini pamper hamper – I could easily spend £5 on some little pamper gifts from the pound shop of from somewhere like Home Bargains.  Pop them in a cute little box and you have a fab looking hamper.

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A sweetie hamper – Fill a box with all sorts of chocolate sweets and lollies for someone with a sweet tooth and you’ll be their favourite person!

A movie hamper – You can get some great deals on DVD at the minute so why not buy a cheap DVD and a bag of popcorn or some sweets.

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Snowman Soup in a lovely mug – Have you ever made Snowman Soup?  It’s fab and makes a great secret santa gift if you pop it in a nice little mug.

A Book Hamper – You can get some great deals on books at the Supermarket so why not buy a book and a mini bottle of wine.

Last minute gift - a cooks hamper

A Baking Hamper – Last year Mr Frugal went to the shop and filled a gift bag with all sorts of cupcake decorating things and I loved it.  It was such a nice idea and cost hardly anything (apart from the beautiful timer he bought me to go with it).

And if you’re not very creative and have no time on your hands then I guess you could even buy a bottle of wine, a four pack of Kopparberg or a tin of Roses.

And don’t forget, even when you haven’t spent a fortune on a gift, a pretty gift bag or box and some ribbon will make it look awesome!