We’re all on a quest to save money – just saving £10 a week equals £520 a year!
It doesn’t have to involve you giving up life’s treats either as there’s lots of easy ways you can save a pound or two with hardly any effort at all.
A recent survey showed that 44% of people make their own food for lunch at work while loyalty cards get a decent workout with 41% of people using them. Reducing the number of takeaways, knocking the thermostat down a few degrees and home cooking more meals also made the top ten in the list of 25 money saving tips.
According to Money Magpie, a blog post on property website McCarthy and Stone and the site thisismoney.co.uk, there are ingeniously simple tricks out there to help you keep hold of those precious pennies. We all know that cutting down on luxuries can help your pension but what else can you do to make your money go further?
- Make more meals from scratch – from dinner to packed lunch, cut down on the ready made sandwiches, restaurants and takeaways.
- Try not to hit the shops if the fridge looks empty – shopping when hungry can lead you to buy more than you need and you never know how far your leftovers will stretch. Be creative – if you have pasta, ham, cheese, a tin of tomato soup and a packet of crisps then you can make a delicious pasta bake that will feed the entire family and keep them feeling full for hours!
- Grow your own vegetables – they’ll be tasty, fresh and FREE.
- When you do go food shopping, switch to economy brands to drop a few pounds off your bill.
- Shop around for home, car and travel insurance and service providers for your satellite, internet and mobile phone – you will be shocked at how much you can save.
- Check online voucher discount sites and sign up for customer loyalty schemes – there is big money to be saved, especially with some of the larger supermarket chains.
- Browse your local charity shop for a new outfit and start borrowing clothes from friends for nights out and special occasions instead of buying new each time.
- Buy second hand, pre-loved items like toys, furniture and clothes.
- Buy all your Christmas presents in sales throughout the year as it will help spread the cost and you will avoid all those queues come December!
- Start haggling – there’s usually a little room for manoeuvring when it comes to market traders, car dealerships and on goods that are slightly damaged.
- Start walking instead of driving or use public transport! Do you really need to get a taxi home when the bus costs a third of the price?
- Cut up the plastic or look for lenders offering 0% on balance transfers so you are not paying high interest rates on your borrowing.
I’m pleased to see lots of these tips as they’re also featured in my Fifty Ways to Save Money post! ;-)
This one ism’r for everyone but it has some great advice for small business owners!
The great thing about integrating online and brick and mortar stores is that it makes it easier than ever for specialty shops to stay open. People who once would have had to struggle can now flourish, and this is opening up more room for “niche” markets like gourmet dog treats. While some people may think it’s frivolous to spend any money on gourmet treats for a pet known for drinking out of the toilet, the main customers of gourmet places actually aren’t people with money to burn. Most people who shop at a gourmet dog treat boutique have pets with severe allergies or dietary restrictions. These pups need access to organic, very carefully made treats. Some need gluten free, some are allergic to different kinds of protein, and some need a snack that will help stabilize and control their blood sugar. With needs like this, it isn’t surprising that a loving pet owner would want to stock up on essentials for their dog’s health and happiness. With that in mind, dog treat shop owners need to have more and more complicated recipes and options to keep up with demand. That’s how a sleek POS with a nifty barcode reader can really come in handy.
You Can’t Afford Any Mistakes
When it comes to allergies, the stakes are high. Dogs are at a disadvantage; they can’t read ingredients lists themselves, and when something goes wrong they can’t tell their owner why. They are purely trusting; they’ll eat anything given to them by their owner and main companion. This puts a strong burden on gourmet dog treat makers to really come through with their promises. If you accidentally give a dog with a gluten sensitivity a wheat-based treat, they could have intestinal difficulties for days that could lead to dehydration and worse. A dog with a true allergy might break out in a rash or have difficulty breathing. Mislabeling can cause very serious health concerns.
With that in mind, a barcode scanner and printer could be just the thing that you need to keep your records clear. Printing out and labeling bags immediately after they’re made limits the odds that you’ll forget what something is. You can even make your barcodes so that they all use the same partial SKU (stock-keeping unit) for various types of treats, according to Small Business. Gluten free versus not, chicken and poultry versus pure beef, and so on can be differentiated by the number the barcodes begin with. That way you can tell at a glance even without even having to break out your scanner that the treats aren’t going to be good for a particular dog. It also makes it easy for your employees to remember. Sure, eventually they should be able to list off the ingredients list to every treat you make, but when they’re first starting out you don’t want to tempt disaster.
Keep Track of Your Inventory from Online and In-Person Sales
A mobile POS can help you keep your inventory fresh and avoid double selling. Barcodes help as well, and their primary purpose in organization is to make sure that you always know what your inventory is and where they are, according to Entrepreneur. This means that you can take advantage of knowing exactly how many products you have to move. You don’t want to have to split your inventory; your brick and mortar location and your online store most likely draw from the same pool of inventory. You don’t want to sell someone the last tin of your beefy chews when you had an order for them an hour ago. Your customers are expecting quick delivery for food and treats, and even if dried cookies aren’t going to go bad as quickly as most food, it’s still expected to get there soon.
Your Products Do Expire
That’s the other rub. Your products might be fit for dogs, but they do expire. Your true clients might be just as happy munching down a stale, week-old cookie as a hot and fresh one, but their owners are going to feel differently. Barcoding batches with rotating barcodes means that you’ll always be able to pull up information about when your current batch of treats were cooked and how long your customers could expect them to last once they take them home. How much or how little information you put into your barcodes is something that you can control yourself to use them to their best effect, according to Insights. A good rule of thumb to start out with is to include batch size, when they were made, and what their properties are in every barcode so you’re never caught flat footed when a customer wants the details.
As long as you’re careful and take your time when looking for the right treats, everything will work out fine. As odd as it may seem, if you use a tablet, then a wireless barcode scanner from Shopify can connect and give you info about the treats from the barcode. It may be odd, but keeping your furry family members safe is of paramount importance.
Lots of you clever people already have your own little business or at least the potential to start up your own business, no matter how small you think they might be. I only have to have a quick look at Instagram or Facebook to see your fab talents in action – everything from sewing to knitting and from baking to crafting. But what do you do when you want to take that next step….
So, let’s pretend for a moment that you’ve already set up your business and it’s doing quite well. Now you’re actually thinking of expanding your fledgling business and you’re looking for funding. However, while doing your online research, you can see that almost all banks and financial institutions require you to have a business plan. Problem is, you never put one together while setting up your company – and now you want funding.
What Is A Business Plan And Why Do You Need One?
Whether it’s something as big as starting up a new company, or putting together a proposal for a big project, a business plan is a roadmap. You already have an idea about your business, but no one else knows how you run it.
This is where a business plan comes into the picture. A good business plan will list your business, the services you provide, how the service is used by consumers, the benefits offered by the services, how you plan to market your product or service, where you can set up, maximum production cost, sales costs, and so on. In short, the entire business plan is a map to your business future, how you plan to expand it if you make a profit or shut it down in case it fails. You may not have written the plan, but you can always write a plan at any time to provide information about your business to investors.
Simple Ways to Create Your Business Plan
Write it by yourself
Writing your business plan yourself is a good idea, you can do so by carefully going through a sample as well as a template available at Shopify. You already know how your business is working and you have an excellent idea of the funding, finance requirements, supply and inventory, etc. As a result, if you do a little research with a professional website like dceb.ie, you will find great information on how to write your own business plan in two weeks. You can limit your business plan to ten pages and focus on the financial data to ensure that you have the right information for your financial investors.
Hire a Professional
There are business firms that specialize in creating state of the art custom business plans for customers in any niche. As they already have the expertise and the writers, they will visit your company, collect the data, do the market research and create yourcustom business plan with absolutely no need for your interference. This is a great way to ensure that you can focus on your business while a trained person is creating your business plan. Another good reason to hire a professional firm is that they already know what banks and funding organizations are looking for. They will create a plan that is focuses on the reader and grab his attention towards the required content.
Use a Template
Templates are somewhat like writing your business plan yourself, as the template is just a format. You can download format from any website and use them to write your special business plan. However, the template will have to be populated with your data and information. You can find templates from anywhere online but websites like bplans.com do offer clear links to template sites where you can find special templates for specific industries.
Use an Online Free Generator
A free generator is the simplest option but it can cause problems. The generator website will have a simple question and answer format in which you can answer questions and upload data and the website will generate the business plan for your requirements. This is simple and easy and it is quite effective. However, generators use stock language and they may not be able to personalize the business to your particular industry. For example, if you are starting a fast food restaurant, the generator may not have a template or section that deals with your specific industry. In this case, you will have to add data and build the section by yourself.
Business website dceb.ie suggests that writing a business plan is easy if you do a little research. However, if you do not have the time and energy to create the sample plan yourself you can easily hire a professional to do the job for you. However, since you have already set up your business, you are the reigning expert about your business and you will know the best about your business. As a result, it is a far better idea to write the report yourself or sit with the professional writer and provide targeted information to ensure that the business plan is accurate. If you really don’t have the time, discuss it with a professional firm, answer any questions they may have, provide them with the data and let them create the perfect business name.
So now you know how to write your business plan, why not do something about that idea you have niggling away. ;-)
If your children are quickly approaching the end of their time at school, the question of what to do next will probably be looming in all of your minds. In fact, even if your children aren’t even in senior school (like mine) you might still want to consider your options because time goes so quickly. I can’t believe that Miss Frugal is starting senior school in September and even that involved one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make as a parent.
These days, the educational choices for teenagers are pretty open, giving them a lot of options for getting into work or university. So what are the best options for your children and how can you help them to achieve their goals?
If your teenagers already have a clear idea of the career that they want to pursue, the best way to decide on an educational institution or course is to contact people already active in their chosen industry and ask for advice. Some careers are best supported with university degrees, whereas others favour people who learn on the job, so always try to get expert advice before making any decisions.
For hands-on careers like plumbing, mechanics, hairdressing and horticulture, a college course could well be the best path for your teenagers. Colleges often have strong links with local businesses, making it easier for graduates to find work in the nearby area. Plus, college courses are generally a lot cheaper than university courses, allowing your children to enter the world of work debt free.
Though university is now expensive, it is still the best educational option for anyone who wants to get into medicine, law, finance, teaching and a whole host of other professions. If your children want to pursue a professional career but become frustrated with some assignments or university work, tell them to check out Ivory Research, a company whose services allow university students to obtain the grades that they deserve.
Apprenticeships are a fantastic option for anyone keen on becoming qualified in a trade. Normally affiliated with local colleges, apprenticeships guarantee your children a job on graduation and some even pay wages while they are still training. This makes for a very secure educational option and one which will stand them in good stead for the future.
Helping your children to take the next step once they’ve finished school can be a challenge. However, by doing some research and encouraging your kids to think carefully about the options that are available, you can help to steer your teenagers onto the perfect educational path that will see them succeeding and achieving in the years to come.
Your children are never be too young to be taught about the value of recycling. In fact it could be argued that the earlier a child learns about the environment the more likely it will be that he or she will develop a commitment to recycling. What’s more, parents and pre-school carers can teach these topics in a fun and engaging way, whilst supporting a child’s personal development.
What is great about environmental education is that it is based on real life experiences. This means that young children will be able to see first-hand about how to practice recycling and other eco-friendly initiatives.
Interaction with nature
Young children learn about the environment because they interact with it. It is important that adults encourage a child to interact with the environment during their early years. If children spend most of their early years indoors, doing activities that essentially keep them isolated from the natural world, they will miss out on this important early contact with nature. To ensure that your child gets acquainted with the natural world, take them on walks in the countryside and describe and explain the different aspects of nature you see.
Take a picnic on your walk and talk to your child about why it is important not to drop litter and to clean up after yourselves. Take this one step further by taking the empty bottles and containers to a recycling bank on the way home. Get your child to be actively involved with the organising of the waste by asking them to place the rubbish in the relevant bank.
Young children, generally speaking, enjoy sorting out items and are likely to relish the opportunity of placing objects into certain places – this recycling practice can also be introduced at home. Make sure that you have designated bins and containers for certain types of rubbish which are clearly marked. Encourage your child to put all the plastic bottles together in a certain container and all unwanted paper in another. Not only will this help promote organisational skills in young children, but it will also increase their awareness of recycling. This will ultimately mean that children are more likely to continue this important environmental trend into their adult life.
If you are serious about encouraging children to group and organise items together in terms of what they are made out of, you could put a storage unit in their room, playroom or in other areas of the house. For example, the Liberty House Transport 3-bin Storage Unit provides the ideal place for youngsters to store their things. Such handy storage units will encourage a child to organise their items, which is of course the dominant trait of recycling.
Incorporate recycling into games that encourage a child’s development
Use recycling as a means of helping your child learn to count, spell and identify shapes and colours. For example, ask your child to count the number of plastic bottles in the plastic recycling box, or to identify all the blue cans in the container marked ‘cans’. Classifying the cans in accordance with their colour will help young children recognise different colours and shapes, as well as developing numerical skills.
Making crafts using recycled materials
The opportunities of using recycled materials to make all kinds of interesting crafts are almost endless. Young children adore spending an afternoon cutting, gluing, sticking and painting items that were previously something else in the home. Such activities help develop creativity in children, not to mention promote hand/eye coordination. Some fun activities could be sticking colourful beads on to empty toilet rolls or putting plastic bottles on top of each other to make a totem pole.
Many children love to play with toy kitchens where they pretend to cook meals and be a chef. Reinforce the recycling aspect of cooking by encouraging your child to put pretend scraps into a recycling bin. Urging your child to put certain scraps and waste in specific places will help develop an understanding about recycling and what type of waste can and cannot be put together.
One of the greatest components of teaching a young child about the importance of recycling is that you can be as creative as you want to be – your child is also likely to lap up learning about this increasingly imperative aspect of life.
For a range of toys and craft materials that could help develop your child’s interest in recycling and environmentally-friendly living, visit www.borntotoddle.com.
Like many other people, you’ll probably come out of the hectic Christmas period determined to get ahead financially in the next year. While reviewing and updating personal finances is a good step to take anytime, the beginning of 2014 provides the perfect opportunity. These eight money-wise suggestions are intended to help you set priorities so that you can move forward in the New Year.
1 – Use a Family Budget:
You probably have some sort of budget in place, but it may not be working and the chances are that it will need reviewing. The beginning of a new year is the ideal time to make sure that it’s up-to-date and suitable for your family’s needs. A fresh financial start includes keeping an accurate record of income and expenditures (you can use my free tracker here). From there, you will be surprised at how much you can save on car payments, cell phone bills, and other monthly expenses.
2 – Review your Income:
Take a look at the general market to see how your salary level compares to current trends in order to avoid being underpaid. It’s also important to make sure that your family’s spending doesn’t exceed your earnings.
3 – Eliminate Credit Card Debt:
Resolve not to use your credit cards. While you will want to keep a couple of cards for specific purposes, set up a payment schedule that allows you to pay monthly charges and to eliminate any outstanding debts as quickly as possible. Once you have paid off a debt use the budgeted amount towards paying off other debts. This is commonly called Snowballing.
4 – Retirement Plans:
If you are in your 30s with a family, it may be difficult to think about your retirement plans, but it is important for the security of your future and family. First and foremost, make sure you are part of your company’s pension scheme and take a long term view on these pension investments as opposed to just taking the default option. Strongly consider taking on an ISA and continue to contribute to it every year to collect tax-free savings you’ll need for your retirement.
5 – A Savings Plan:
Make the commitment to set aside a certain amount each month. Whether it’s 5% or 10% of your income, plan to deposit the amount before paying your bills. An automatic deposit made directly from your monthly pay-check, into a separate savings account, may be another good option.
6 – Invest Smartly:
Research some investing options, including online trading. Today, it is quite easy and simple to set up an online account, but you’ll need to compare different online brokers. It is possible to trade stocks, options, and get involved in online binary options trading. Diversify by making investments beyond your savings-retirement plans to give you a more well-rounded portfolio.
7 – Insurance Coverage:
Most families pay more than necessary for disability, life, auto, and home insurance. While it is important to have adequate coverage, it is wise to periodically review current policies so that they are in line with your family’s changing needs.
8 – Keep Organised Records:
Maintain efficient access to organised files. If your financial records aren’t up-to-date, you’ll be more likely to overlook income tax-credits and deductions. Find a system that’s easy to keep year-round, and is accessible and organized at tax-time.
Financial management may be tedious; it’s not always easy to stick with a budget while managing your home and family. However, a well-organized system can reduce frustrations and give you the opportunity to better allocate your money. Step outside your comfort zone, research various investment options and you can very well get ahead financially in the new year!
If you’re about to start working from home, it’s really important that you have access to a suitable office area. While lounging around on your couch with your laptop may seem like a good idea initially, the novelty of this approach will quickly wear off. Neck ache, frequent interruptions, lost documents and other problems could plague your home working experiences if you only have a casual base. The good news is, it’s easy to create an effective home office, and you needn’t spend a fortune in the process. First and foremost, you’ll have to find a suitable space. Ideally, this should be a completely separate room, away from distractions and with access to phone and internet connections. Next, it’s vital that you choose a decent office chair. Especially if you’ll be spending long hours at your workstation, it’s important that you have access to well-designed seating. To save cash, you can check out second-hand and charity shops. There are some great finds in these stores, but make sure you test the items out first to ensure they are still in good condition. Then comes your desk. No home office is complete without these products. If you’re lacking in square footage or simply want to create a compact working area, corner desks can be ideal. With this kind of design, larger rooms – and therefore larger corner desks – can allow you to have two distinct work surfaces. If this seems above budget, search around online because there are plenty of discount sites and supermarket stockists offering cut-price deals. Storage is also crucial. Without the necessary drawers, shelving and so on, you may quickly find that chaos descends. You may be able to save yet more money by taking unused storage items from elsewhere around your home. For example, perhaps you have a compact set of drawers in your bedroom that could be better utilised in your office. You could always go for the DIY option and buy or upcycle some sections of wood to use as shelves. Remember, the smaller the surface area of your new office, the more you should utilise the vertical space around your walls. Of course, it’s vital that your working area looks the part too. For hardly any money, you can buy items of artwork and new plants to make it look more organic; research has shown that creativity can be enhanced by the presence of natural objects and certain colours. So, with a little careful planning, it’s certainly possible to create visually appealing, comfortable and practical office areas, without busting your budget. Do some digging in second-hand stores, online and even round the house – just make sure you end up with a space that’s all your own so you can get on with your work in peace!
Every year you hear at least one story of someone who’s Christmas has been ruined because of crime don’t you?
Last year there was an awful story about a family in a town near us being burgled in the week before Christmas and having all of their Christmas presents stolen. They didn’t have insurance and couldn’t afford to replace the presents that were stolen so if it wasn’t for the generosity of their friends, families and local businesses their Christmas would have been completely ruined!
And then there was the poor lady that I heard about a few years ago who saved all year and went on one big Christmas shopping spree except a few shops in, she realised that her purse had been taken our of her bag! I don’t know if she received any help from anyone but I’m sure however it turned out, it wasn’t the Christmas she was hoping for!
It’s a fact apparently that crime does spike at Christmas time but there are ways you can cut down on the risks of it ruining your Chritsmas….
- Don’t post on Facebook or other Social Networking sites that you’ve got a stack of expensive presents stashed away. You may trust your friends completely but there’s always a chance other people will see your posts. And to be fair, most of us have at least a few randoms on there!
- Don’t leave presents under the tree before Christmas Day as someone passing may see them and be tempted.
- Make sure your home insurance covers is up to date and will cover everything you’ve bought.
- After Christmas, try not to let the packaging for the expensive things be seen. I break down the cardboard boxes and put them in one big box so they can’t all be seen unless you’re really looking.
- Don’t leave presents you’ve just bought on display in the car.
- Try not to get cash out from an ATM at night – during the day is much safer.
- Pay with a debit card instead of taking cash out where possible.
- Keep your purse close to you and definitely not on the top of your bag.
- Use the free ‘Keep it safe and log it’ service at Immobilise which helps police track stolen goods if the worst happens and something is stolen from you.
- Get yourself an ultaviolet pen and write your postcode and house number on your valuables.
Don’t let Crime ruin Christmas!
Gadgets like smartphones, games consoles and tablets are swiftly taking over all aspects of children’s lives from listening to music to providing a handy distraction just when a parent needs it. I’m a big fan of the technology that’s available to our children these days but I’m very aware that the rise in the popularity of these gadgets definitely has some drawbacks. Yes, they’re a convenient device to have to hand and children increasingly want one.
Many children are now spending a large portion of their time using gadgets instead of being pro-active and interacting with parents, family and friends and I often see children so engrossed in their gadgets that they pay very little to no attention to what’s going on around them – wandering around supermarkets, at the local soft play (honestly!) and even at the skate park.
Playing with other children face to face and spending time with adults is essential for children’s development and allowing them to reach their full potential in life so whilst technology is brilliant, it’s vital that we make sure that we make sure that our children aren’t missing our on personal contact!
Here’s a few tips for getting your children away from gadgets:
While the rise of gadgets is unstoppable as a mum you can curb how often your children use them. Set boundaries and talk about the consequences to their health of staying a home playing gadgets, instead of playing outside. Don’t be too strict on this though as it can feel like a punishment to them, compromise is the name of the game!
Mix it up
It may not be feasible to assume children will give up their right to gadgets in favour of family activities all the time. Achieve the right mix by encouraging your child to take part in activities like swimming, cooking, walking etc, whilst allocating fixed slots of time that can be spent on their gadgets.
It can be difficult to constantly prize kids away from their gadgets and get them involved with something equally interesting. Use all your available resources both in and out of your home. Make use of the local leisure centre, library, parks and cafes. At home you can set up a book club or get your kids drawing or playing board games together as a family.
If you can’t beat them, join them
Electronics can be a great family activity as well so don’t be afraid to join in with them – you might be surprised at how much fun you can have.
Of course, lots of us will be buying at least one gadget of some form this Christmas so you need to make sure that you’re getting the best deal on what you’re buying. Make sure you shop around for the best deal, use cashback websites to make your purchase and also it is important to find the right credit card for your needs as some will offer you additional cashback on your purchases. The cashback amounts may not seem like a massive amount on paper but it quickly adds up and any amount of money is better in your pocket than anyone elses!
Oh, one last thing. If you do buy any gadgets for Christmas, I’d strongly recommend charging it (in secret) the day before as there’s nothing worse than not being able to play with something straight away!