School holidays can be expensive if you don’t plan them carefully.
We always make a bit of a plan for when the kids are off school which usually involves a few days at home generally relaxing but with some crafts and baking thrown in, a couple of days out to local museums or parks and if our budget allows, we try to fit in one bigger thing – usually at the end of the week so we have bribery material leading up to it ;-)
We’re also planning a kids takeover day like we had a few weeks ago where we let the kids write their own to do list as that worked our surprisingly well. We thought they would fill their list with expensive things but it turned out to be a great day that didn’t cost us very much at all.
For the bigger days out that will cost more, you still have time to make some extra money to pay for the them:
- Car Boot Sale – Have a car boot sale and clear out your junk at the same time. My boot sale top tips are here if you want to have a look.
- Selling clothes online – Music Magpie have a new service where they will buy clothes online. You enter the details of your item into the tool and you’re given a price if it’s something they can buy. I haven’t tried this myself but it sounds like it’s worth checking out – especially if you have some nice designer gear in your wardrobe!
- Sell your old mobile phone – just Google sell my mobile phone and you’ll be inundated with companies who will buy your old phone from you. Shop around and see who will give you the best price for the make and model of your phone. They send you an envelope which you pop your phone in, send it back and wait for the money to hit your account.
Don’t forget to make sure that if you are going to somewhere like a theme park that you get the best deals possible for your tickets. I always Google the place we’re going to and discount vouchers to see what the lowest price we can get it. Once we have the best price for tickets, we make sure we keep the price down by taking a packed lunch along with extra drinks and snacks.
Which reminds me, I really should start planning for this half term….
When keeping a clear and frugal lifestyle, you should still know what options are available to you. Borrowing money, for instance, is something you still may need to do. And if this is the case, you need to know what options are available to you.
To this end, here are few key pieces of advice on borrowing money. From understanding how paying off debts can keep your account in the clear, to understanding the potential importance of a credit rating. Just don’t forget that you need to pay your balance back in full EVERY month to avoid paying interest.
One way of borrowing is through cash advances. This is essentially borrowing money in advance of pay day, with the idea being the money is often repaid within the month. This is a popular form of loan advertised on TV but these loans still have interest. To stay frugal or just keep the costs down to a minimum, you want something more rewarding.
The aquacard advance card, for instance, works as a typical credit card. Yet the card doesn’t add interest if your balance is paid off fully on time each month. As such, it’s the perfect form of cash advance if you need one – a much better alternative to a pay day loan company solution. As a credit card, you get the benefits of instant cash when it’s needed, yet it rewards quick repayments as you don’t pay interest if you pay in full each month.
From a frugal perspective then, you should only borrow money within your repayment range. If you know how much money you have spare when your income is available, you have an idea of your spending limits.
The advance card, for instance, has an initial borrowing limit of £250 up to a maximum of £1,600 which should cope with any necessary payments. Keep paying back the balance on time, of course, and you’ll have plenty of room to borrow within that £1,600 limit, as well as avoiding any actual debts.
A Good Credit Rating
As we have already established, borrowing money can work in your favour. Of course, there are times later in life when you may want to borrow larger amounts from banks and other creditors in forms besides that of a credit or advance card. In these cases, you’ll often be assessed by your credit rating. A good way to improve your credit rating is to utilise a credit card, borrow and repay on time and within your limits.
If you don’t have a credit rating at all then this is can be seen as badly as a poor rating. Both cases, in the creditors eyes, are a risk. A history of sensible and reliable spending is the best option, demonstrating your fiscal standing and responsibility when it comes to borrowing money.
There’s so much to tempt you to spend money at the weekend.
If you have a Monday to Friday job, then when the weekend comes you often feel like treating yourself. And if you’re a parent, when the weekend comes you feel the need to entertain the kids too – and that can be very expensive!
ivasdirect.co.uk helps people manage their debt, and has compiled some money-saving suggestions for families with young children.
Don’t be ruled by your mood
It’s the weekend and you’ve made it through the week. You’re pooped and the kids are making demands. Have you ever made financial choices you regret when you’re tired, hungry or generally in a low mood? Or do you celebrate the weekend by splashing out? Becoming aware of how your own moods affect your own spending might help you cut back on the non-essentials.
At the weekend there’s the temptation to splash out on nicer food and drink. In fact supermarkets are designed to encourage you to spend more, or trade up to the ‘luxury’ brands. Have you ever noticed that the cheaper brands aren’t situated in your direct eye line? You’re more likely to find them on the lower shelves.
If you do a big shop at the weekend, beware of the ‘Friday Feeling’ – you know that carefree feeling you get at the weekend? It can lead to a loose wallet!
You don’t have to do everything
It’s easy to feel pressure to always be doing something with the kids at the weekend, but that can be expensive, and tiring. There’s no harm in having at least one weekend every so often when you don’t really do very much. It might sound boring, but it won’t do your kids any real harm – and you need to recharge your batteries sometime! Pyjama days can be more fun than days out!
Get interested in cheap or free activities
If you are bored or looking for something to do with young children, try to find things that you enjoy that don’t cost much, or even better – are free! Everyone needs hobbies or interests – grown-ups and kids too. If you can find something that you enjoy doing that doesn’t cost too much then you won’t feel deprived. You’ll find lots of examples of fun things to do with children (that don’t cost the earth) on this blog.
These days it’s become critical to establish a healthy credit rating, but this is often easier said than done. Irresponsible use of credit and excessive consumer credit spending was common before the credit crunch, but since the financial squeeze, we have realised the importance of being sensible and mature with the credit options available to us.
However, for most people the available options are very limited, especially for those with no credit or a poor credit rating. Credit lenders are much choosier than they used to be, and they will often decline applications of credit for people they consider to be even only a little bit risky, and this includes most major credit card providers.
The solution to this problem could be to apply for a credit card that’s specifically designed for people with poor credit or no credit, and this is exactly what the issuer aqua offers. aqua provides a number of credit cards for poor credit or low credit, aimed at students, people with low-income or people who have a history of bad credit.
Personally, I don’t agree in using credit cards to buy things you want but can’t afford as I’ve done enough of that myslef in the past and I’m still paying the price. What I do know is that credit cards can be very helpful in helping you to build up your credit rating – each month you make a regular payment which is reported to the credit reference agencies. The more positive information you have on your credit file, the better your credit score.
Making the Most of aqua Credit Cards
The credit cards available with aqua are not simply there to give you the credit you need to make a big purchase; instead, they are designed to help you improve your credit rating over time and get you started on the road to a positive financial future. You need to make sure that you remember that you’re using it to build up a positive credit history and not to get yourself into debt. If you can’t guarantee that you’ll use your card in this way, then think very carefully before you apply for one.
aqua are on your side when it comes to managing and improving your credit. Interest rates are competitive, terms and conditions are reasonable, and with the aqua Advance Credit Card there is the chance to gain an APR as low as 19.9 per cent after three years. If you ever need help or advice, aqua’s UK call centres are available 24-hours a day. You are reminded by text when you need to make an aqua credit card payment every month so you never forget, and the online service makes it simple to manage your spending and pay your bills.
A big benefit for all aqua credit card customers is the credit checking service. Access to your credit report usually costs you money, but with aqua this service is provided free of charge. You get unlimited access to your report with the credit reference agencies Experian and Equifax, and your rating is updated on a monthly basis so you can monitor the change in your rating and use it to make sound financial decisions. Another benefit of being able to view your credit file is that you can see if any credit is taken out in your name that you didn’t know about so you can help protect yourself against identity theft.
Tips for Financial Success
Simply owning an aqua credit card, using it to make small transactions and making at least the minimum monthly payments, will over time improve your credit score. Better yet, you can also avoid paying the APR each month on top of what you have borrowed if you pay the total outstanding balance each month. The most important thing is to pay at least the minimum payment each month and never to exceed your credit limit. I’d strongly recommend doing paying your card off in full each month and I know a few people who use the card to do their weekly shop and pay it off in full so they don’t pay interest but the card is being used regularly and paid regularly which all helps your credit rating to improve.
There are a number of helpful resources on the aqua website with further information on how to improve credit rating and how to manage your debts. Just remember, you’re not taking out the card to build up a debt, you’re taking it our to build up your credit rating so be sensible!
‘Childcare costs are to blame for Easter money blues’ – says The Co-operative Bank
While the kids may still be fighting over the remnants of chocolate eggs, parents are more than likely counting the pennies and fretting over their dwindling finances. Yet it isn’t necessarily the cost of Easter celebrations which has us in a tizzy during March – an infographic from The Co-operative Bank has revealed its actually childcare costs which are to blame.
Cost of being a parent
According to their data, Easter months are plagued with increased spending as we look for ways to keep the kids entertained. The month of March typically sees us spend an extra £167.67 – money we can’t afford to squander. Considering that most of us will have only just cleared our Christmas debts by this month, this means that we seem to be stuck in a never ending spiral of spending.
When asked, 11% of us said March is one of the hardest months financially – only being beaten by January’s debt hangover and the £314.5 extra we spend a month during summer (June-August). Of those that struggle financially during March, 20% admitted that it was because of childcare costs.
Coincidentally, this is the same amount of individuals who admitted to taking a family holiday over Easter – a decision which perhaps pushes our finances into the red. The parallels between this holiday and the larger summer break are clear, with 38% of those asked admitting they spend more in the summer months to fund holidays.
The data is not to suggest that sacrifices should be made or that families need to forgo these small comforts in order to save money. The fact that 46% of people admitted they had stopped socialising to save money made shocking reading and instead the message is to find ways to make things more affordable rather than forgoing them altogether.
For parents, this could mean seeking alternative childcare options or taking advantage of free activities to keep little ones occupied.
A Frugal Christmas and a Debt Free New Year – An infographic by the team at The Co-operative Bank
This is a sponsored post.
If you look around your house, I bet there’s at least one job that needs doing that you’ve been putting off for a while. Especially at this time of year when the days get longer and the sun get’s brighter – it seems to highlight the little things that need your attention.
So what are we waiting for?
Lots of retailers have offers on at this time of year so you can get those little jobs done and spruce up your home for less if you make sure that you’re looking in the right places for the good deals.
To save you time as well as money, we’ve compiled a quick list of three quick and easy ways that you can spruce up your home without too much money or effort.
1. Use Flower Power…
Never underestimate the power of nature! If the front of your house could do with a makeover but you can’t quite bring yourself to get the paint pot out just yet, then just buy a few plants to put on the doorstep. As well as brightening up the postman’s day, these cheerful touches are likely to make the whole house feel more welcoming; you can easily get your hands on a few inexpensive shrubberies with a B&Q discount code or an offer from any other garden retailer.
2. Paint a Wall…
The prospect of painting an entire room can seem a little daunting. However, by picking just one statement wall and painting in in a bold colour, you could completely refresh a space. Try picking up a chart from any DIY store for inspiration, but for money off: take advantage of a Wickes voucher code for use on their colour collection. From soft pinks to soothing blue hues: there’ll be a shade that’s right for you.
3. Invest in a few finishing touches…
Instead of buying an entirely new sofa or bedding set, why not transform what you already have? You could dye cushion covers, treat yourself to a few new ones, or hide a multitude of sins with a few luxurious throws. However you choose to spruce up your home, make sure to check with the UK’s leading voucher site to take advantage of all the latest money saving deals.
So come on, make some time to do at least one of those pesky jobs that you’ve been putting off before the Spring comes around.
With children, it’s always a challenge to keep the house free of clutter and toys (or even just to get them all tidied away at the end of the day), but there are ways you can make things easier on yourself….
Use toys as decor. Instead of seeing the overwhelming pile of toys in your home as the enemy, think of them as a design solution. For decorating your kids’ bedrooms, hanging toys on the wall or placing them in on shelves can add colour to the room as well as make the decor for their rooms much more interesting.
De-clutter regularly. The key to keeping the toy situation under control is to regularly de-clutter by getting rid of toys that your kids no longer use. This goes for dolls, mini cars and building blocks, but you should also pare down your children’s videos regularly, as well. You can double your efforts by giving some of your old toys to charity and to make money for new toys (or other family expenses) you could go through your children’s DVD collection and sell DVDs online.
Put toy storage within reach of little ones. One of the most common mistakes that parents make when sorting out what to do with toys is to put them in storage containers that are either out of reach or not easily reachable for children. Try putting storage baskets or buckets at eye level or lower. You can find rolling storage containers that can be easily tucked under beds or in a closet, for example.
Find playful storage solutions. If you make your kids’ storage look like a fun place to visit, you’ll increase the chances that they actually use it. Paint a toy box with their favourite cartoon characters or search for small boxes that look like Lego blocks or dollhouses and they’ll consider cleanup just another part of playtime.
Baskets are better than bins. Any obstacles like hard-to-open lids or tops that can get lost and add to the clutter have the potential to make tidying up toys a more time-consuming process than it needs to be, so stick to wicker baskets for a decor-friendly, kid-friendly way to store their belongings. If your children just have to place toys in a container, it could almost become second nature to put them away when they’re finished with them.
Finally, accept that as a family, you’re never going to be able to achieve the clutter free look you might have loved before you had children. It’s the way it is ;-)
At this time of year with the miserable weather and dark nights, lots of us are planning our annual family holiday. If you’re looking for somewhere fun with lots to do, why not consider visiting the US and treating your family to a theme park holiday.
To help you decide which theme park’s for you, here’s a quick review of some of the most popular theme parks in the US. There’s Disneyland in California, Sea World and Epcot in Florida, (have a look here for good deals on Florida Park Tickets) Six Flags in New Jersey and Cedar Point in Ohio. They’re all different in their own way so whatever you’re looking for, you should find something to suit your family….
Disneyland – Kids from all ages know Disneyland. In fact, it’s always included in our ‘bucket lists’. But do you know what’s in store for you in this theme park? Among all the theme parks in the US, Disneyland is the most family oriented. You’ll see parades, games and more rides that are oriented toward family entertainment. There are activities which you and your kids can enjoy. It’s not about the extreme coasters and heights. It’s about feeling young, no matter what age you are. Disney tickets are a hot commodity so if you’re looking to purchase tickets, have a look at ticket re-sellers online. Ticket reselling sites will often find exclusive deals and discounts to pass onto the consumer.
Six Flags - You’ll be overwhelmed with all the rides in this amusement park. With over 100 rides and programs to choose from, 1 day won’t be enough. The rides are more extreme than Disneyland’s and if you have pre teens or teenage kids, I would say that this is a better option. If you are after the heart stopping coasters, this is the best venue.
Sea World – This theme park literally brings you to another world. All the joys of the ocean in a completely dry environment! Their shows usually display many magnificent creatures of the seas. Go here if you want to be impressed by dolphin and whale shows—they will definitely put you in awe. Just a tip, you might want to bring a water proof camera or a disposable one.
Epcot – This is one of the 4 theme parks at Walt Disney Resort. You wouldn’t want to miss this because it’s different from the usual amusement parks. Epcot is divided into 2 areas. They are Future World and the World Showcase. Future World appeals to our techie side, with displays of technological creations that could become part of our future! On the other side, the World Showcase gives you a taste of 11 different countries. Who says that you have to ride a plane to experience different cultures?
Cedar Point – Lastly, we have Cedar Point. Located in Ohio, this park is for serious thrill seekers. Their rides will test you adrenaline limits! Cedar Point is geared towards a teen-adult audience and thus the rides have very strict height-weight criteria. It’s not advised to bring small children here as it is likely they won’t be able to enjoy the majority of the attractions. However if you pass the criteria and are looking for adventure and thrill, this could be the park for you.
The above choices are some of the best amusement parks on offer. We all have different tastes when it comes to theme parks, so really it’s just up to you to decide what you’re up for. If you want to relax and enjoy the day with your kids, you should consider Disneyland. If you are a thrill seeker Cedar Point may be the place for you. Know what suits your boots so you can enjoy your stay whatever theme park it is!
Choosing the right home insurance policy can be a tricky business with so many brokers looking to sell their wares, and so many confusing terms to contend with. The most important thing is that home insurance should never be treated as a one size fits all type policy as may have been the case in the past. This attitude can leave you woefully short of cover in the wrong circumstances.
Home insurance, broadly speaking, is divided into two important sub categories: buildings insurance and contents insurance. If you rent property it’s the variations of Contents Insurance that probably interest you the most; this protects your belongings rather than your actual fixtures and fittings. The home owner on the other hand will probably be interested in a combination of the two; particularly at a time when flooding is rife through the torrential rain we’ve experienced and rising water tables.
Sites like those produced by Endsleigh can be invaluable when choosing the best home insurance policy. It clearly illustrates the important subdivisions of contents insurance and how you can tailor an Endsleigh Home Insurance policy to your exacting needs.
We live in a world where most of us have a veritable arsenal of consumer technologies, often worth well into the thousands. Many of us are complacent in insuring these goods due to their novel and miniature nature but if disaster strikes you could find out their value the hard way. Brokers like Endsleigh offer tailored contents packages where you can ring-fence your most precious goods and choose suitable levels of cover. This is where terms like accidental damage, malicious damage and loss become all important.
Decide what you’d like to be covered against and buy a policy accordingly; if you feel some goods aren’t worth adding to your premium then don’t list them on your policy. A tailored policy is vital in a world where our goods and belongings are far less generic than in the past, and companies like Endsleigh are on hand to provide a package with your exacting needs in mind.
New Year Bedroom Re-vamp
A brand year presents a great opportunity to give your home a revamp. Once the decorations are down and the toys and gifts put away, have a good look around your house to see which areas you’d like to makeover.
When it comes to sprucing up, bedrooms can often be overlooked in favour of the downstairs rooms that are always on show to visitors. However, a lovely, cosy bedroom can help to aid sleep and see you waking up every day with a smile on your face. But where to start?
Storage is a sticking point in many homes, with it becoming a constant battle to keep on top of the clutter! Keeping floors and surfaces clear will add to a lovely feeling of space and calm in a bedroom, so you need adequate storage to meet your needs.
Kitting out your bedroom with new wardrobes doesn’t have cost a small fortune. You’ll find great value wardrobes online at ASDA Direct, with a range of sizes, styles and designs to suit all preferences. ASDA applies its low supermarket prices to its homeware too, so you’re sure to find the perfect wardrobe for you within budget.
Whether you’d like a classic wooden wardrobe, or something more contemporary like the stunning Minsk Grey Gloss Wardrobes, you’ll find it at ASDA online.
In addition to wardrobes consider chests of drawers, bedside tables and other storage solutions like bookcases, dresses, ottomans and blanket boxes.
Purchasing new bedroom furniture gives you a great opportunity to freshen up paintwork, put up that wallpaper you’ve always wanted or have a new carpet fitted, while the room is clear. Take a look at Dulux online for some decorating inspiration. You can also use the handy paint calculator at BBC Homes online to work out how much to buy.
Space can be an issue in many bedrooms, particularly in new homes which may have small dimensions. Take a good look at your room through fresh eyes to see whether you’re using the space that you have in the most effective way. For example, sometimes putting a bed by a window, while not ideal, will free up a lot of space that can be used for storage. You can also look as space saving solutions such as underbed drawers – ideal for blankets, bed linen and out of season clothes.
The wardrobes are in, the paint is on the walls – now for the fun part, the finishing touches! Bear in mind what kind of mood you want to achieve in a bedroom – usually restful, calm, peaceful, or maybe even seductive? Whether you go for a light, bright and airy look to maximise space, or warm colours for a cosy or passionate feel, think about using texture and light to create the desired effect. The BBC Homes website has lots of design inspiration for you to make use of, or pick up some design magazines from the newsagents or the library to get those creative juices flowing.
After getting the basics like your wardrobe storage sorted, the small details will make all the difference. A scented candle, plush cushions and fresh flowers can all make a bedroom a place that you’ll love to retreat to.