With over 80% of homeworkers reporting lower job-related stress levels, organisations hiring homeworkers see 50% less employee turnover, and 68% of young people showing more interest in a job with home working options. Statistics prove that working at home really is the future of employment. In fact, figures from the last five years show that a massive 4.2 million workers in the UK work from home, amounting to nearly 14% of employed people in the country.
It finally feels like spring is in the air and while you may be thinking about sprucing up your house with a spring clean, it may also be worth thinking about giving your finances a going over too
Spring has finally arrived and it’s time to start looking forward to warmer days, lighter nights and hopefully plenty of lovely summer sunshine. It’s also a time of year when people like to have a bit of a clean out, dust away the cobwebs and prepare for the new seasons ahead. Whilst planning a spring clean though, it might be worth thinking about giving your finances a bit of a spring clean too.
Preparing financially for Becoming a New Mum can be daunting – Here’s what I’m doing to try and make things easier on our family finances in the run up to our baby arriving
At the time of writing this I am 31 weeks pregnant with my first child. As always I’m thinking about our future and our finances and how best to prepare for the weeks and months ahead. Because this baby is my first, I’ve got no idea how I’m going to feel as a new mum in the days and weeks after she’s born – so I’m preparing financially now in the hope that in that in those precious early weeks I can focus on my newborn baby girl and nothing else.
January round up: A quick overview of everything that’s happened this month including what I bought in the January sales.
Welcome to a new post on the blog that’s going to be a quick round up of everything that’s happened with me, my life and my finances over the course of each month. There’s lots of little things things that I do to make and save money over the weeks but they aren’t always big enough to warrant a whole dedicated blog post. It means I can include any personal news I might have shared on social media but not here on the blog and I’ll also be sharing my favorite bargains, apps and cheap hauls from the month.
In this Guest post Nick Daws explains how to make money by investing in Food and Drink with Primestox
Today I have guest post from fellow blogger Nick Daws who writes over at Pounds and Sense . He has quite a bit of experience with investing so I was keen to see what he had come up with for me as a newbie investor who doesn’t have a clue what she is doing! Investing can be a great way to make money long term and while there are risks involved it is still something that is worth looking into. Here Nick talks about making money with food and drink by investing with Primestox.Continue Reading
Too Lazy To Save Money? – Try Thinking about it like this and it might encourage you to put in the effort
If you’re a regular reader of my blog there may a few things that you might have noticed. Firstly, I love saving money. Secondly, I love spending it too. Something I want to be honest about on this blog is our finances, how we’re coping and why we are making the choices we are.
Are you too lazy to save money?
It may seem that recently we have spent a lot of money seemingly unnecessary things. Although, that of course does depend on your point of view. The point of this post isn’t to brag – everyone’s priorities are different and what you spend your money on is entirely up to you. I just want to show that being super savvy with your cash can have massive ramifications in allowing you to do the things you love, such travelling, eating at fancy restaurants – whatever that may be for you.
‘Time is Money’ – Benjamin Franklin
Time is money is a phrase you’ve heard many, many times and which was originally coined by Benjamin Franklin. But have you ever thought about exactly what it means for you? You probably have in terms of your hourly rate of pay – but have you ever looked at it as an hourly rate of savings?
One thing I often find when chatting to people is that they are just too lazy to save money. They either can’t be bothered, are comfortable enough that they don’t see the saving as making a huge difference to them financially or are just happy paying full price for things.
Personally, I love hunting down a bargain. If I can get something for less I will and with cashback on top of the savings the money is soon stacking up. And often all it takes is a few minutes of googling and clicking through from one of my cashback accounts.
I think part of the problem here is that people seem to don’t seem to view savings in the same way that they view earnings. The average hourly rate of pay in the U.K is £13.03 Per Hour (Source). Now I know to some reading this that might seem high and of course it is much more than the minimum wage of £7.50
With a little bit of research, especially on big household items like T.Vs you could easy make that back – and then some in the space of a few minutes – but people still don’t bother. I think convenience often wins out – a few clicks and you have whatever you were looking for delivered to your door.
How it works for me
The way I do my weekly shop is a prime example of this.
Last year I cut our monthly food budget down just £50 – previously I hadn’t budgeted but I suspect we were spending in excess of £200 a month. While we weren’t always able to stick to this budget exactly the most we went over by was about £10. It completely changed the way we shop. We were so careful – we cut out a lot of crap we were used to just buying without really thinking about and carefully considered each item we put in our basket. I meal planned and couponed and did three of four small shops a week. Admittedly this did take some extra time. Cutting the big weekly shop into several smaller ones probably cost me an hour extra a week. Another hour for the coupons, checking shopping apps and uploading receipts when I got home.
So 2 extra hours a week spent planning the weekly shop.
But the savings – roughly a £150 a month are the equivalent to getting £18.75 for each of those hours – which for me is totally worth it and much more than what I earn in an hour at my day job.
Another great example of this is when haggling with companies over utilities and for this example I am going use Sky. I do have a post detailing a Super Lazy Way to haggle with Sky – but this method takes a little longer, around an hour to an hour and a half.
I like to use the chat function on the Sky website – mostly because I don’t like talking to people on the phone and it means I can be multi-tasking while I do it. Just ask for money off your bill. It’s as simple as that. They will ask you questions about what you watch etc which is what takes up the time.
I did this for my parents recently and secured around 25% off a month – saving them £450 over the 18 month contract compared to what they were paying. And if someone offered you £450 for an hour and half’s work you’d be jumping at the chance right? OK, so they won’t have that money immediately but it’s still worth for such a huge saving over 18 months.
When trying to find ways to ‘make’ extra money you will often there is often cash already in your budget, you just need to spend time finding it!
Are you too Lazy Too Save Money? Or do you love hunting down a bargain? I’d love to hear about it!
Suffering from severe migraines, or any long term illness, can have a hugely negative impact on your finances, as well as on your health.
Until I started dating my now husband, Pete, I really didn’t have a clue about just how bad migraines can be. While migraines do come in varying levels of severity, a lot of people still see them as just a really bad headache. In Pete’s case they are much, much more than that.
Fortunately, at the moment we have them reasonably under control with a concoction of medication and a plan of a action if he does feel one coming on. However, as well as impacting his health this condition also impacts our finances, with multiple prescriptions and frequent time off work.
Severe Migraines – More than ‘Just a Headache’
As I mentioned before, migraines do come in all different shapes and sizes but I think Pete’s are probably towards the furthest end of the severity scale.
Here’s what usually happens.
In common with most migraine sufferers he does get an ‘Aura’. This usually gives us enough time to get home from where ever we and get some medication down him. When he feels a migraine coming on he takes a tablet which is supposed to delay the onset to give other medications such as anti-sickness tablets and painkillers a chance to work.
The anti-sickness is probably the most important because once he’s been sick it can be really hard to get him to take anymore tablets. Also if I give him painkillers and then he’s sick I have no idea how much of it has actually got into his system.
Next Pete jumps in the shower. He’s been known to stay there for anything from 15 minutes to an hour and half as it does give a small amount of relief while he waits for pain killers to kick in.
Then to bed in a dark, quiet room. The pain is so intense he literally can’t do anything other than just lie there. His speech becomes slurred and he often experiences numbness down one side of his body. It’s a bit like looking after a very drunk person! Sometimes he’ll ask me to massage his neck shoulders, other times he can’t bare to be touched. And then it’s just a waiting game, hoping the painkillers kick enough for him to get to sleep. Sometimes this takes a couple of hours, sometimes it takes all night.
Usually the next day he experiences a ‘migraine hangover’ which can vary in severity – usually in line with how severe the migraine was and how long it lasted. On occasion he does need to take the following day or two off work to recover. Sometimes he goes to work when actually he probably shouldn’t.
Pete currently takes both beta blockers and anti-depressants to help control his migraines and while they work at preventing them to a point there are lots of triggers, including stress and alcohol. He also experiences memory loss, which is not a typical migraine symptom and is something his doctor is monitoring.
Plan of Action
One thing we’ve found has help with Pete’s migraines is having a plan of action, so that I know what to do when he has one. When we first started dating and I was looking after him during a Migraine I googled what to do. While I found plenty of advice for the person suffering – take pain killers, dark room, no noise – there was zero information on what someone could do help other than those three things. It made me feel completely helpless. There have been times he’s been in so much pain he’s tried to harm himself and I’ve had to stop him. There have been times I’ve sat next him and cried because there is nothing I can do to make it better for him when he is so clearly in agony.
So now we have a plan.
Dotted around our house are ‘Migraine Kits’ containing painkillers, his ’emergency tablets’, anti-sickness tablets and a few other bits. Having all the correct medication in one place with a list of what it’s for and when it’s to be taken is a huge help. It also means if I’m not there but someone else is they know what to give him. I also know to get a glass of water, ice packs from freezer and a bucket in case he’s sick.
The idea for this actually stemmed from an incident a few years ago, on valentines day. I’d spent all day preparing a romantic meal for us. After eating it, Pete had a migraine came on and spent the next half out throwing up the food I’d spent all day cooking. When he’d finally finished being ill, I managed to get him to take some painkillers. Or what I thought we’re painkillers. In my panic at the situation I’d actually given him a double dose of his normal migraine medication by mistake. Cue me spending an hour on the phone to NHS direct trying to find what to do and whether I could give him anything else. Probably the least romantic Valentines day ever.
How often Pete experiences severe migraines can vary massively. Sometimes he won’t get one for three or four months. Other times he might have two or three very close together. Obviously when he’s experiencing one of his severe migraines I want to do everything I can to help and there a few thing we’ve found but that I’ve not really seen mentioned anywhere else.
One of things that really helps Pete while he is suffering from a migraine is sex. I’ve read a lot online about how people who suffer with migraines sex life can be impacted as a whole, but nothing on sex during a migraine. While I can completely understand why someone experiencing a migraine would not want to have sex (and I must absolutely stress this will not work for or be a solution for everyone) the relaxation it offers helps alleviate the pain and allows him to relax enough to sleep. Unconventional, yes, but for us, it works.
The second thing is a recent discovery in the form of a Migraine hat. Pete has actually only used this once, as luckily, his migraines have been few and far between recently, probably due to an increase in medication. It’s basically a hat that covers the eyes too (for full black out) that is full of a liquid gel. It’s kept in the freezer and while the gel doesn’t freeze hard the cold can be very soothing for the migraine sufferer. He absolutely loved it and said it’s one of the best things he’s ever tried for his migraines, as the intense cold really helped numb the pain. If you would like to find out more you can find a migraine cap here (affliate link)
Minimizing the financial impact
Everything I have described above has varying levels of impact on out finances. The biggest one is needing to to take time off work. Luckily, at the moment, Pete has very understanding employers who are happy to allow him to put aside a few days of annual leave to take if needs time off after a severe migraine. However, if he was ever to move jobs we have no idea if they other employers would be so considerate.
Then there is the cost of numerous prescriptions. Pete currently takes five different medications related to his severe migraines. To minimize the cost of this we have chosen to have a prepayment certificate – which costs £104 for 12 months spread over 10 monthly payments.
We are also very careful about which pain killers we buy. Quite often branded products have exactly the same ingredients as their own brand counter parts for a much smaller price.
Be careful while travelling abroad this summer – this misleading text from o2 cost us £60
Earlier this year my husband an I embarked on the adventure of a lifetime for our honeymoon. Two weeks travelling around the west coast of the USA. We spent a week in Las Vegas followed by a couple of days in San Diego and three nights in LA to visit Disneyland California.
We both consider ourselves reasonably financially savvy and so to arrive home to a phone bill of £90 from O2 for calls made from my husbands phone while in the US was a bit of a shock. I’ll willingly admit that neither of us are particularly well traveled and looking into phone tariffs for while we were abroad hadn’t really occurred to either of us. We figured pretty much everywhere would have WIFI and that if we needed to contact anyone back home we’d use Whats-app or Facebook to get in touch with them.
We actually took an indirect to flight Las Vegas (to save money, of course!) so our first port of call was actually Calgary airport in Canada where we would have a few hours wait before jumping on a plane to McCarren airport where our honeymoon would be begin.
Shortly after touchdown on the runway both my husband and I received the following message from O2. We both received the exact same message when landing in the USA too.
Welcome to Canada
‘Welcome to Canada/USA. You’re on O2 Travel so keep your phone on and get all the data, minutes and texts you need for just £4.99 a day. You’ll only be charged for the days you use it. Prices include VAT. Your daily charge applies from midnight to midnight based on the local time of the capital city in your chosen destination. For more info about O2 Travel, to see the standard roaming rates or opt out of the service visit www.o2.co.uk/travel, Usage terms apply. Call 112 for emergency services. To stop texts call 2220.’
As we didn’t think we would need to use our phones we weren’t too worried, but it was nice to know that we’d only be charged £4.99 a day if we did.
And you can probably guess where I’ going with this. In the end we did need to use my husbands phone – several times as it turns out.
We Were Wrong
As part of our awesome, once in a life time trip we’d booked a helicopter ride to the Grand Canyon. This was something we were both very much looking forward too. Unfortunately for us, it wasn’t to be. Severe inclement weather meant that our trip was cancelled on the day we had booked it. So, we made a quick phone call to re-book it for the following day. Which again was cancelled. So another phone call to re-book. In the end we ran out of days – absolutely gutted but we understood not wanting to take the risk with the severe weather conditions. Another phone call to arrange a refund for the cost of the trip.
The idea of the these expensive phone calls abroad should probably have horrified us, but as per above we thought we would only be charged £4.99 for the days we had used the phone. And since on those days we thought it had been activated we also made phone calls home to our parents just to let them know how we were doing.
We continued with our holiday and thought nothing more of it. When the bill came we were expecting it to be a little bit higher than average (3 x £4.99) but it still should have come in at about £30 as hubby is on cheap monthly contract that’s about £15.
Where had the extra £60 quid come from?
It turns out we weren’t on O2 travel at all. To register for O2 travel you actually have to click the link in the above text. You then have to send a text with the words O2TRAVEL to 23336 and wait 24 hours for them to activate the service.
Maybe I’m missing something but nowhere in the above text does it say that you have to activate the service for it to apply. The words ‘You’re on O2 Travel’ made both of us think the service was there and ready to use should we need it. Nowhere does it say ‘Click here to Activate’ or that it will take 24 hours to become available for use.
There is also the section that says to ‘opt out of the service visit www.o2.co.uk/travel‘ once again making us believe we were already opted in. Now, maybe because we’ve not traveled much there’s something here we’ve missed, but I really don’t think there is.
That text is very misleading.
Of course, if we’d known we weren’t on the O2 Travel Tariff we wouldn’t have made the phone calls to our parents which made up the bulk of the charges, around £50. The calls to the helicopter company made up the rest of the bill.
Obviously we complained to O2 but they were adamant that it was our fault for not signing up to O2 travel in the first place, despite showing them the text they had sent us and arguing how misleading it was. And of course there was no denying we had made the calls. We raised an official complaint with them but never heard anything back.
If you’re with O2 and travelling abroad this summer please don’t make the same mistake we did – make sure you know exactly what tariff you need to use your phone abroad and whether it’s something you need register for. Do your research. You might just save yourself coming home to a huge phone bill.
One of the things we found when buying our first house was that everyone encouraged us to spend as much as we could possibly could.
When my husband and I bought our first house just over 18 months ago, one of the biggest things we found was that everyone seemed to be trying to encourage us to spend more money than we wanted to. That said, our financial adviser was excellent and had carefully poured over our income and outgoings to determine what we could afford to spend on a mortgage each month.
We knew before we got married we wanted to do things differently – here’s why we chose to have an Independent Wedding Celebrant
Wedding are so expensive and it’s important to consider whether the money your’re spending is actually getting you everything you want for your big day. We knew for a long time before we got married that we wanted certain parts of our wedding to be different to what is considered ‘the norm’. This included having an independent Wedding Celebrant performing the ceremony on the big day instead of a Vicar or a Registrar to give the day a more relaxed and informal feel.
The great thing about having an Independent Wedding Celebrant is that it meant that we could have our ceremony wherever we wanted – outside, on the beach, on mountain – the sky’s the limit when there are no legalities to consider. It also meant we could say and do whatever we wanted during the ceremony – it could be religious, non religious, or a combination of anything we liked. We actually opted for some ancient pagan tradition
The legal bit
The only drawback to having an Independent Wedding Celebrant is that they can’t legally marry people. To be legally married the ceremony has to be performed by a Vicar or a Registrar and it has to be inside a licensed structure, which is why many wedding venues have small arbors even if you are getting married outside (this is different in Scotland).
There are a few ways to get around this though. Having a Celebrant do the main part of the ceremony but also having a registrar present to tend to the legal side of things is one way. We chose to quietly do the registry office bit on our own a few days before what we considered to be our actual wedding day.
We chose the cheapest and most basic option for our registry office ceremony as we wanted to keep all the pomp and fuss for the actual ‘big day’ a few days later. This meant only being able to have two family members with us, no readings, just the legal necessities and nothing more. We didn’t even exchange rings.
Now, I would like to point out at this stage that a few members of our family really struggled to get their heads around our choices. They felt that the registry office ceremony was the important bit and were upset not to be invited. We explained that we didn’t consider it our wedding day, we wouldn’t be dressing up and that having a celebrant do the ceremony as we wanted it a few days later was what was really important to us.
It can actually cost a huge amount to have a registrar to come out to your chosen venue or to get married in church. Having the cheap ‘2+2’ ceremony in the registry office and then having a celebrant on the day actually saved us money. It also eradicates the need for a licensed premises to hold the ceremony at. If you’ve always dreamed of a relaxed backyard wedding or beach themed day this could be the perfect option for you while also saving loads of cash.
The Main Event
To us, the legal bit was just a formality. The important bit was the promises we were making to each other in front of all our friends and family. The celebrant we chose is actually a regular in the pub we both work at so we already knew him well.
I love that when we got married, it was someone we consider a friend up there with us, performing the ceremony and helping us start our journey into married life.
The ceremony was written especially for us and included a beautiful hand holding ceremony;
‘Fiona, would you please hold Pete’s hands, palms up, so you can see the gift that they are to you. These are the hands that will work alongside yours, as you build your future together; These are the hands that will countless times wipe the tears from your eyes, tears of sorrow and tears of joy; These are the hands that will comfort you in illness and hold you when fear or grief engulfs your heart; These are the hands that when wrinkled and aged will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch’
We added some fun elements too such as ‘jumping the broom’ a tradition which we had wanted to include. We also singed a certificate provided by the celebrant to recreate a signing of the register photo opportunity for everyone.
Hand fasting Ceremony
Something else we wanted to include in our day was a hand fasting ceremony. This is another ancient tradition in which the couples hands are bound together with rope which is then tied in a special knot, never to be undone. We gathered everyone together and had this performed just before our first dance. Including it in the main ceremony earlier in the day would have made it very long and it was lovely for evening only guests to see part of a ceremony too.
The celebrant we used was David Parker of Somerset Ceremonies. While we already knew Dave prior to our wedding we could not fault his professionalism on the day. As well as providing us with an interesting and unique ceremony he also acted as a Toast master for the rest of day, announcing things like the first dance and our entrance to the room for dinner.
David will make the day as formal or informal as you would like and we cannot recommend him highly enough. As well as weddings David also does naming ceremonies, funerals and offers his services as a toastmaster for more formal events. He would also be a perfect choice for a vow renewal as there are no legalities are required. A couple that attended our wedding actually liked David’s service so much they have booked him for their own wedding which we look forward to attending in the next few weeks. Having an independent celebrant gives you the freedom to have you ceremony exactly as you want it and we couldn’t have asked for more on our special day.
Time for a money confession – I spent over three thousand pounds learning to drive and then didn’t drive for four years.
Learning to drive is expensive, we all know that. I definitely know that because I spent more than three thousand pounds learning to drive and then didn’t drive a car for over four years. I wasn’t away at Uni or living in a foreign country. I did, however, have a massive car accident (that wasn’t my fault) five days after buying my first car that left me terrified of driving.
Eventually overcome my fear, but only after paying out for yet more lessons with an extremely patient and kind driving instructor. It’s hard not feel like that was four years of money wasted. Learning to drive is an investment and for the first four years after passing my test I wasn’t getting any return on that investment because I wasn’t driving.
Learning to drive
Learning to drive didn’t come naturally to me at all. I think some people just ‘get it’ straight away – I did not. I struggled and it seemed to take me forever to get the hang of it. Almost a year in fact. And in that time I spent a small fortune on lessons. Initially I started with an instructor that offered intensive, bulk lessons. So I was having two four hour lessons a week, which is double what most instructors usually offer. However, I didn’t really get on with the instructor and because he offered intensive week long courses as well he kept cancelling on me in favour of others that were spending more money.
So after about a month I changed instructors. My new instructor was so much better, more reliable and very friendly. However, he had much busier schedule and could only fit me in for four hours a week. For 10 months I had two lessons a week and was eventually ready to take my test. I failed my first. Passed my second.
One of the biggest hindrances while learning to drive was not having my own car. Money wise I could afford to buy one but didn’t see the point as I had no-one that could sit with me while I practiced. Neither of my parents drive and none of my friends had been driving long enough to be able to help me. Had I been able to practice more in my own time I really think I would have been able to spend less on lessons.
After I passed my test I actually had a couple of extra lessons. I wanted to feel confident at driving on the motorway so had a few lesson to practice. I think one of the scariest things after leaning to drive is actually driving one your own for the first time with no one there with you.
My first car was a lovely little Vauxhall Corsa. It cost me £1200 and a further £1000 for a years insurance. I had this car for a grand sum total of 5 days. On my first day off with my new car I wanted to take my Mum out for the day. While driving on the motorway when another car hit me from behind. They didn’t stop, just carried on driving. I pulled over onto the hard shoulder and got out of the car, while my Mum phoned the police. Just one person stopped to help me.
My car was a wreck. We waited for what felt like hours for the police, the highways agency and eventually a recovery truck. Luckily we were both unhurt, although had anyone been travelling in the back of the car it might well have been a different story as the impact had completely knocked out the back seats. While I appeared uninjured at the time, the impact actually left me suffering from Thoracic outlet syndrome, something I didn’t discover until much later on.
Unfortunately my car had to be written off. Initially the insurance company gave me a hire car to drive, but then revoked it after two days because the other drivers insurance was refusing to pay for it. The driver of the other car had been unconscious at the wheel when he hit me. However, being unconscious didn’t prevent him from driving a further twenty miles down the motorway and crashing into a coach.
I had a massive battle on my hands to try to get any money out of his insurers at all. They were claiming that because he was ill while driving the accident wasn’t his fault. The case went on for almost two years. Eventually they agreed to pay out around £2000 to cover the cost of my damaged car and a what we thought was a minor whiplash injury, which in the end turned out to be something far more serious.
After the accident I simply couldn’t afford to buy another car, having just paid out for one, plus a years insurance. The bulk of my savings had gone on lessons. So I just didn’t drive. The accident also affected me in others ways. It was months before I went on the motorway again, even with someone else driving. I became a very nervous passenger, continually scared something bad was going to happen. I had nightmares that a car had crashed through my bedroom window (my bedroom was on the ground floor and next to a road).
By the time the insurance company had paid out the money I just didn’t want to buy another car. I didn’t want to drive. So as I compromise I gave some of the money to my husband, we bought a car together and he put me on the insurance. Eventually I tentatively went out for short drives around town. I really struggled with nerves and my husband got frustrated with me because he knew I could drive, but I just wasn’t doing it properly because I was so nervous.
Ready To Drive Again
After changing jobs, my only option for getting to work was a bus, a five minute walk along a main road with no path and then crossing the A39 twice to get where I needed to be. I decided enough was enough. I booked another course of driving lessons. I had been absolutely loathe to spend any more money on driving, but in the end I decided it was the only way forwards. I had the same instructor as before and I spent £400 on another twenty hours of lessons. Thankfully it worked and I now feel much happier with driving. It’s taken almost two years but I now actually feel confident driving around town and in my local area, which is all I really need. I still haven’t driven on the motorway.
Learning to drive isn’t cheap. It’s certainly an investment and one which should last most of the rest of your life. Looking back I wished I fought harder at everything. The guy who hit me and drove off wasn’t even arrested or prosecuted for failing to stop. It was ‘recommended’ that he no longer drove his car but his license wasn’t even revoked. The whole incident had such a huge impact on my life and my finances. Spending years not having the confidence to drive meant not applying for jobs further afield. I didn’t gain the freedom being able to drive should have brought me.
The injuries caused meant a lot of time off work sick and taking time off for doctors appointments, which were a 100 mile round trip. That said, things could have been much worse. I am lucky to be alive. I am lucky the injuries were not worse. I’m just glad that I was eventually able to regain my confidence and get driving again.
I was recently accused of being stingy when chatting about my money saving ways – here’s why I see myself as Thrifty not Stingy.
Whilst chatting to someone recently about my money saving ways they accused me of being stingy. They think not paying full price for items is being stingy. Buying from the reduced section is stingy. Only planning to send £100 or less this Christmas is stingy. I think they are wrong – I am Thrifty not Stingy.
The more I thought about the more it bothered me. I honestly don’t think I’m being stingy with the way I live my life. If anything, living this way gives us more. We are travelling so much this year, more than we ever have. Being careful with money are means we can afford to.
I am generous with something far more precious than money, my time. Neither of my parents drive, but if they need to be somewhere I am there to take them. I gladly look after my 12 year old brother two days a week. I look after a friends child in the holidays if she needs me to.
If you come to my house for dinner I will feed you reduced food but you will not leave hungry.
I don’t plan spend much on Christmas presents this year, but if someone is giving you a thoughtful gift, does it matter how much they spent?
I love being thrifty and I don’t think that makes me stingy at all. My partner and I both work so hard for our money we want to make it go as far as it possibly can. Being careful means we will hopefully pay off our mortgage 15 years earlier than our term, saving thousands in the process. We are slowly but surely building a better future for ourselves and the children we plan to have.
Finally it feels like spring is here – time to myself some goals for April and May.
I am going to be honest, I was completely rubbish at sticking to my goals for February and March. Life just got in the way and with one thing and another I just didn’t achieve the things I wanted to. Am I upset? Yes and No. I did stick to some of my goals. We didn’t spend much more than £50 each month on groceries. I did manage to get some decluttering done. I did make a bit of extra cash although not as much as I would have liked. Two really long stints at work without a day off left me completely exhausted.
I have achieved some of my blogging goals, posting twice a week and continuing to increase my views, with this week (27/03/17) being my best ever week. I have also come up with an idea for a series which I hope to start posting soon.
My blog posts over February and March have continued to focus on saving money on your weekly shop, including even more ways to save at Lidl and Aldi, Saving on Food at M&S and Waitrose and Why you should be buying reduced food.
I also wrote some more personal posts talking about why I wish we had spend more money on our wedding and my experience being diagnosed with and treated for Arterial Thoracic outlet syndrome, which involved having one of my ribs removed.
Goals for April and May
April and May are looking like extremely busy months and while it’s mostly due to fun things like birthdays and holidays and I want to take a different approach to how I manage certain aspects of my life. I really need to start working smarter not harder!
We actually set off on holiday for two weeks on the 30th of May (DisneyWorld, Yay!). I want to be prepared and have everything ready to go for that. We are away in Cornwall for three days the week before we go to Florida so I’m going to have to be packed and organized well in advance. Plus I plan to attend 4 quiz nights including my own quiz/party to celebrate me hitting the big Three-Zero at the end of May. The school holidays plus Easter weekend means the start of summer season at my day job so I can see my hours creeping up a little there too.
One thing I am going to try is doing one or two really small things each day. At the moment I tend to leave everything until my days off. This leaves me feeling completely overwhelmed and anxious and then I don’t end up getting anything done. Or other important things end up cropping up and still don’t get anything done.
So the plan is to break everything down into smaller chunks. One eBay listing each day. One facebook selling post each day. One small area of decluttering each day. I am going to print myself off a chart and tick things off as I go. I’m not going to set myself a specific money making goal but hopefully making the effort to sell a couple of things everyday will pay off at the end of each month.
I really don’t want to set myself any more goals than that for April and May as I am going to be so busy! What are your goals for the coming months?
Weddings are super expensive, there’s no doubt about that. Here’s why I actually wish we had spent more money on ours.
As someone that normally writes about saving money it may seem a little strange that this post is all about something I genuinely wish we had spent more money on.
I know to some people this will massively sound like first world problems and I am honestly so grateful that we were able to have a wedding and have a reasonable amount to spend on it.
But I also think I made some pretty big mistakes when it came to spending on our wedding. I really hope others can learn from these mistakes and make their big day the absolute best it can be.
In hindsight it’s so easy to see where we should have spent more and where we could have spent less. It would also be easy argue that even if we had spent more, some of the things that went wrong may well still have gone wrong. Or been even worse, no matter how much money we had thrown at them. I would also like to mention that we didn’t have a super budget day either, our regrets don’t stem from not spending any money at all. We spent around £14k which is much less than the average wedding but not what I would consider a cheap wedding either.
We only viewed two venues after getting engaged. We fell in love with the second one and that was that. It was expensive, more than we had planned to spend, but we had exclusivity for the whole weekend. The venue was completely DIY so we figured we’d save the difference sourcing and doing everything ourselves. We had just over a year until the big day and thought that was plenty of time to get everything sorted.
In some areas we got super lucky. We always knew we wanted a non-religious ceremony, so rather than pay a fortune for a registrar to come out to the venue we got ‘officially’ married in a quiet two plus two ceremony at the registry office a few days before the main wedding. Dave Parker, a friend of ours who is an independent celebrant agreed to do our ceremony at the venue for no charge.
I asked a friend from work to do the catering, as she actually used to be a wedding caterer. We’d supply all the ingredients and she’d turn it into a simple afternoon tea.
We both work at a pub so asked our boss to run the bar for us and supply all the beer. We’d supply the spirits and wine. So far so good.
All the DIY
I always thought I would love planning my wedding. I love organizing things, parties, events etc. It was actually one of the most stressful things I have ever done. It felt like every thing that could go wrong did go wrong. From a company that was supplying a photo-booth and other entertainment going bust (thank god I paid with paypal!) to having our first and then second band cancel on us it really felt like one thing after another. And don’t even get me started on trying to get people to RSVP on time.
On top of that we took on far too many DIY projects. There were so many little things I wanted and to save money I did them myself. Some of these I really enjoyed, such as creating a Harry Potter Themed sweet table. Others were more stressful than I had anticipated – like hand stamping all of our place settings and making our table plan.
When considering the DIY elements of your wedding I think it’s important to include the cost of your time as well as the cost of materials and whether you have the skills to pull it off. It is not money saving to buy everything, realize you don’t have the time or skills to complete it and then pay someone else to do it for you at the last minute.
Then there was the big, unexpected life change a month before the wedding. Our boss was taken ill and we were asked to take over the business we both worked at until further notice. This meant my husband living there, working 100 hours a week and all the remaining wedding tasks falling to me. It was a very stressful time, but necessary as there was no-one else to take over and the business may have faced closure if we hadn’t done this.
This also meant we no longer had someone to run the bar at our wedding or supply and set up the beer. Luckily Dave Parker’s wife offered to run it for us after contacting a few company to find they were all booked up at such short notice. However, we still had to sort all of the beer. The easiest solution was cans. Not classy, but practical. We added it to our Tesco order which at least made the delivery of it easy.
Disasters on the day
To get the contents of our DIY wedding to the venue we hired a van. We hadn’t realized quite how much there was to take to the venue and couldn’t fit it all in. We ended up ringing round family members last minute to get them to take stuff down with them.
One of the barrels of ale we had bought was damaged in the back of the van and leaked half of it’s contents on the hour long drive to our wedding venue. We lost about £40 worth of beer and had to spend an hour cleaning the van and everything that had got covered in beer the night before our wedding. Also the alcohol we bought for our groomsmen was accidentally put behind the bar and sold, meaning half our gifts to them were missing.
The venue had a beautiful garden that we had planned to get married in. On arrival we discovered the previous wedding hadn’t removed the hay-bales they had used for seating. The venue were having them removed that day but the grass was all yellow and ruined where they had been sat wet and rotting.
We could have re-covered the mess with our own hay-bales. However, we had actually planned to get married in a different part of the garden. We had spent quite a lot money on garden decorations to create an arbor, which we could now no longer use. Unfortunately heavy rain was forecast for our big day, so plans of getting married outside anywhere at the venue were scuppered.
We decorated a room inside instead for our ceremony, but it was dark and under decorated. Absolutely nothing like the bright outdoors ceremony I had been dreaming of.
At 11am on the day of the wedding the friend that was supposed to be doing the food had not arrived. So, I made start on it instead of getting ready and sent someone to ring her. No-one could get hold of her. I went off to get my hair done, hoping she would arrive any minute. Turns out she was stuck behind a huge accident on the motorway for almost 4 hours. She’d tried ringing some of the guests to let them know but the signal was poor at the venue. She didn’t arrive until two hours after we got married.
Several of my lovely friends and family stepped in to start making sandwiches. They did their best but didn’t have enough time before the ceremony to get as many as were needed made. I felt we were really short on food for the wedding breakfast. The evening food was completely different to what I had asked for. They forgot to bring gluten free food despite being reminded the day before that we had gluten free guests.
The band were over an hour late arriving, again due to traffic. I was very aware that they were late and this caused us further stress on our big day. It also meant our evening celebrations started much later than planned.
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My Three Big Wedding Regrets
One of my biggest regrets is not hiring a wedding planner to run things on the day. People were continually coming to me with problems even when I was getting my hair and make-up done. This meant that I couldn’t relax and enjoy it. Having someone there to keep everyone away from me and deal with all the last minute odds and ends would have made a huge difference to how happy and relaxed I felt on the day.
My second biggest regret is how much we spent on our wedding band. A whopping £1200. Something we both agreed on was that we wanted our first dance to be to live music. After our first two bands cancelling we had a bit of panic that no-one decent would be available. The band we chose were fab, but barely any of guests were up dancing and enjoying them. We may as well of had DJ for a quarter of the price. They did do a DJ set after their live sets but the song choices were awful and no-one was able to make requests as the literally put on a playlist and disappeared.
I also really wish we had got someone in to do the bar for us. It would have saved so much stress and anxiety. It would probably have cost a bit more, but I really think it would have been money well spent.
Have a Plan B
I realize the majority of this post is very negative. Don’t get me wrong, bits of our day were amazing. I got to marry my man in front of our friends and family all of whom were amazing at helping out with anything that needed doing. They loved our day and venue choice (one of my husband’s cousins still mentions how awesome our wedding was every time we see him). But my overriding memory of the day is of feeling stressed and worried about everything that went wrong.
I had given myself so much to do all the time I missed out on doing any fun stuff the venue had to offer. Honestly I wish we’d spent more just so that I could have relaxed and enjoyed the whole weekend properly. I was so focused on saving money I took on way to much and have ended up regretting it. Yes, it’s just one day. But it is a day I will remember forever.
The best piece of advice I could give to anyone planning a DIY wedding is have a Plan B. For everything. Even if you think you have planned every little detail, plan it all again with a back up. And hire some help. Even if it’s only on the day itself, let someone else take the strain and enjoy your big day.
There are a lot of things I talk about on my blog. Here’s why Tackling Debt isn’t one of them.
There are a lot of things you will find on my blog. How to save money, how to make money, thrifty recipes. But there is one area of personal finance I’ve not really written about. I don’t really talk about Debt.
I actually realize that I am extremely lucky never to have been in any debt. Other than a small mortgage we have no debt and have quite a large savings pot should anything go wrong or should we encounter unexpected redundancy (a prospect made all the more scary by the fact we both work at the same very small business). Yes, it’s taken sacrifices to get here, but I am proud of where we are, how far we’ve come and what we are doing each month to achieve our goals.
People end up in debt for lots of different reasons. Sometimes it is through bad habits and stupidity. More often than not it is from literally not being able to make ends meet. And then not being able to meet the minimum payments and then incurring more and more debt in continuing downward spiral. Not wanting to talk about debt and lack of financial education can often also play a part.
I want to write from experience
Because I’ve never personally experienced being in a large amount of debt, it’s not something I feel I can comfortably write about. Almost everything I write about here is my own experience, things I do every day and every week to make and save money. I can give you tips to start saving money on your groceries, make a bit extra from around your home or use your leftovers to make amazing meals. While I have some ideas on tackling debt, none come from personal experience which I think is important when talking about such a huge issue.
There are also so many amazing personal finance blogs out there that do talk about debt; in depth, in detail and from people who know what they are talking about. People who have experienced it personally and are making changes to tackle it head on. Their experience is far more valuable than anything I could say.
So here are my three favorite blogs and blog posts on tackling debt.
This beautiful and heartfelt letter sums up all the feelings and emotions that being in debt can cause. I’m sure anyone reading it who is starting their journey to being debt free will be able to relate. Check out the rest of Francesca’s blog too for lots of fantastic work from home ideas.
‘Raised in a family who didn’t spend money they didn’t have, I was so ashamed to find myself in debt. Seeking help and facing the reality of my situation is the best thing I ever did though. It’s turned my life around and been a real education. My only wish is that I did it sooner. Please don’t bury your head in the sand like I did-start that journey out of debt now!’
Vicky has also written a book how she cleared half of her debt by taking part in television quiz shows. You can find it here.
Likening debt to being in Prison, this post sets out simple steps to begin your debt free journey. While the author has only had mortgage debt, this is still a great a post.
‘The escape from Alcatraz wasn’t a 1 man plot- it took 3 of them working together. You don’t have to do it alone. Make your journey easier with help’
If you are in serious debt and don’t know what to do, please seek help. There is so much support out there.
I always find it helps to set some goals at the beginning of each month. Here are mine for February and March.
I don’t really feel like I’ve achieved a lot lately with regards to my blog and making extra money. I was away for two weeks in January on honeymoon. While I had an absolutely amazing time, I really feel like it’s time to start afresh, pushing myself to see what I can achieve. The last week or so I’ve suffered terribly with Jet Lag (first world problems, eh?) which has left me feeling really down and unmotivated. However, today I am finally starting to feel better and feel like I have got my mojo back a little. I thought this would be a good time to look at what I want to achieve in the coming months and set some goals.
I am going to set Goals for both February and March as I know they are going to be the same for both months.
1. Make at least £1000
We are off to DisneyWorld in Florida at the end of May for my 30th Birthday and we need to pay off the final balance for this on April 1st. While we can afford it without the extra cash, I think the thought of paying it off without touching our wages or savings will be a great motivator. The actual balance remaining is quite a lot more than this but I really didn’t want to be too over ambitious.
I intend to make extra money by selling on Facebook and eBay and doing overtime at work. I have quite a bit of overtime lined up as everyone is trying use up all their holiday before the end of the year. We also plan to declutter our DVDs and Books and send them off to Ziffit or Music Magpie.
2. Declutter the Spare Bedroom
Our spare room is very cluttered, mostly with old clothes and wedding stuff that I want to sell on eBay and Facebook. There are also items that need taking to the tip. Both of us actually left a fair amount of stuff at our parents when we moved out and we are both being nagged to collect it all. Even more stuff for selling, sorting and taking to the tip. We are really going to make this a priority this month! I am hoping to rid of at least 500 items over the course of the next two months.
3. Continue to stick to our Food Budget
We spent all of 2016 sticking to a really tight food budget of just £50. We ran down our fridge a freezer massively before we went away so came back and did a really big food shop, something we hardly ever do. However, we are now well stocked up on store cupboard items which will last for ages. With only £10 of my budget remaining I do think I will end up over spending this month. But this just makes me more determined to stick to £50 in March.
4. Make an appointment with our Financial Adviser
This morning we received a letter from the Financial Adviser that arranged our mortgage, offering us a free financial review. While we feel we are quite on top of our finances, I think there is always room for improvement. We also really want to start making over payments on our mortgage, and this is something she should be able to advise us about.
What are your goals for this month?
While I’m not making any New Years Resolutions this year, I really want to set some goals, financial, blogging and personal.
Happy New Year!
Many people are glad to see the back of 2016, with its many celebrity deaths, political upheaval and general feeling of unease. For me personally, 2016 was a bit of a mixed bag. I got married, which was amazing because my husband is awesome, but the wedding day itself was quite stressful. So much went wrong and I really struggled to relax and enjoy it. Looking back, I actually wish we had spent more money and done less DIY! One of my favourite things left from our day is our photographs. Our photographer, Adam Rumble, really outshone all our other suppliers and was just so helpful and friendly on the day. You can check out his work here.
Prior to the wedding we spent a month running the business we both work at. This meant my husband working almost 100 hours a week and living there, as well as us trying to sort everything for the wedding. We both ended up knackered and unhappy by the end of it. We decided taking over this business permanently was not a path we wanted to take. Luckily we had the option to resume our previous roles and things are now ticking over nicely.
I started this blog in June 2016 and while initially I found the technical side of things quite difficult I now feel a lot more confident with what I am doing. For the last few months I’ve managed to post more consistently, with a steady rise in views showing that my hard work is paying off. I really hope to continue growing Savvy In Somerset in 2017!
I’m actually a bit of a social media addict so have found this side of running things quite easy. However I do need to be much more consistent with how often I post and try to interact with others a bit more!
- Make the most of Instagram – It’s not a platform I used before starting my blog and I’m probably not using it to it’s fullest potential. If you’re not already following you can find me on instgaram here. Expect reduced hauls, bargains and pretty notebooks. End of 2017 goal – 1000 followers
- Facebook – Facebook is one of the hardest platforms to grow, although I do find it’s where the majority of my traffic comes from so I must be doing something right! I have a Facebook group which I would really like to grow in the next year. I think one of my strongest areas is saving money – particually when it comes to grocceries and household goods, so I will be focusing on that in the group. If you’d like to join, you can find the group here. End of 2017 goal – 500 facebook page likes
- Twitter – I enjoy using twitter and my follwing seems to be steadily growing. I recently read a post by Emma from me and b make tea about how to grow your twitter follwing. I will definitely be putting some of her suggestions into practice! End of 2017 goal – 1500 followers
- Pinterest – I love pinterest but I still don’t really think I know what I’m doing. I’d love to try and grow it more in 2017. End of 2017 goal – 500 followers.
I still feel like I’m quite new to blogging – so I’m going to keep my goals fairly simple and hopefully achievable.
- Increase my page views by 10% each month. I won’t be counting January as I am away on honeymoon for two weeks.
- Post consistently with at least two blog posts each week.
- Have a re-vamp of some of my older posts.
- To start earning money from my blog
One of my biggest flaws is that I can super duper organized in some areas of my life and absolutely chatoic in others. I am so easily distracted, especially by social media and this is something I need to work on.
- Organize my time better. I’d like to have more consistent times for working on blogging and money making.
- Procrastinate less. I am terrible for putting things off and then getting stressed and anxious because I haven’t done them.
- To declutter the house. We’ve only lived here 18 month but we have so much stuff. I need to get eBaying!
- More Comping. I really enjoy entering competitions and it’s something I want to do more of this year.
My partner and I are pretty good when it comes to money, but I think we could do better and that’s why I’m setting these goals. This year we have two big holidays planned. Although our honeymoon is now mostly paid for we have a holiday to Florida booked in may for my 30th Birthday. We also want to start paying more off of our mortgage and think about starting family, so growing our savings is a must.
- Consistently earn extra money each month and see this figure increase over time. Some months I do really well, some I don’t. I need to even this out.
- Actually pay something extra off our mortgage even it’s only 1k.
- Have 20k in savings by the end of the year.
- Improve on some of financial downfalls. Less takeaway. Less food waste,
- Spend less on Christmas. I’m hoping to do all gifts for about £50.
Wow, having written all of that out it seems like such a lot. I’m hoping having it here will help keep me accountable and motivated! What are your goals for 2017?
While we save hard and are careful with money, there are definitely areas we could improve on.
Last week I wrote a post about our biggest financial achievement, saving up almost £50k to buy our first house. This week I want to talk about our biggest financial downfalls. We do save really hard and we are careful with money. However, we’re not perfect. There are some things we could most definitely improve on.
Our Biggest financial downfall No.1
This is probably our biggest unnecessary spend. If I am being completely honest we usually have takeaway at least twice a week and we spend far more a month on this than we do our actual food shopping budget (which is just £50 a month)
I know why we do it and I feel guilty every time we do. But sometimes life gets in the way and it’s just easier to have someone else cook our dinner. Plus, I bloody love Chinese food. And kebabs. And pizza.
Firstly both my husband and I work unsociable hours. He finishes later than me but we car share (to save money) so I usually have to wait for him to finish before I can go home (we work at the same place). This can be as late as midnight. Quite often, I just don’t feel up to cooking that late, even if I’ve already got something out of the freezer.
Secondly, I actually work as chef. After cooking for other people all day sometimes cooking for myself is the last thing I want to do! It’s so much easier just to grab something from the takeaway and go home.
Buying less takeaways is something we are trying hard to work on. The last couple of years we have had a no takeaway month in January. The first year we lasted the whole month. The second year we lasted a week! As hard as we are trying I can’t see this changing massively unless we move to jobs with more normalized hours.
Our Biggest financial downfall No.2
Following on from above, something we really need to improve on is our food waste. Despite having a very limited food budget I often end up throwing food away. I’ll get food out of the freezer and either come home with a takeaway, fancy something completely different or completely forget I got it out in the first place. As I buy a lot of food that is reduced and then freeze it, it doesn’t always last as long as buying fresh food would. The only consolation is that I didn’t pay full price for it the first place.
A great way to avoid food waste is using up your leftovers! Here are my 3 easy recipes for sunday lunch leftovers that can be popped in the slow cooker for Monday night tea.
Our Biggest financial downfall No.3
Not budgeting properly
Although we are really strict with some areas of our budget there are other areas where we are not so stringent and where there is definite room for improvement.
We are strict with our food budget. While we spend very little money on ourselves we don’t actually have a set budget for personal spending.
We also don’t have a budget for eating out and takeaways. If we had budget for this I think we would definitely save money – at the moment I have no idea exactly what we spend. This is something I would like to try implementing in the new year.
Our Biggest financial downfall No.4
As a chef I really enjoy sampling other people’s cooking. I like to relax and enjoy my days off and not have to worry about making food for us – so we usually have one meal out together each week. We do budget for this – we try to spend about £30 on the meal and drinks for the two of us.
We have a Tastecard so we try to eat at places that accept this, which is one of the ways we save money by having our days off midweek. Tastecard allows us to have 3 courses each for our budget at some of our favorite restaurants.
We also try to take advantage of offers at local restaurants, such as an Indian in our town that does a 3 course menu for £10.95 on a Wednesday and Thursday.
We could cut back on this though. If we only ate out every other week we would save at least £60 a month. That would be our groceries budget covered. Certainly food for thought.
Our Biggest financial downfall No.5
We love Sky & Netflix
I know Sky is expensive. I know there are other, cheaper ways to go. But we are just so used to having it that we can’t imagine not having it. The thing is, we don’t even watch that much television and most of what we do watch is recorded from earlier in the day. The main problem is we love all the big American T.V series, The walking dead, American Horror Story, Game of thrones. I like being able to watch them when they’re on without fuss or hassle.
Related Post – The Super LAZY way to Haggle with Sky may help you get a discount with a few simple clicks
We also have Netflix.
We were kind of tempted by sky movies for a bit and then got Netflix instead as it’s cheaper. It may get to a point where we feel we’ve watched the majority of what it has to offer, but with every episode of Gilmore Girls and a second season of Stranger Things on the horizon I can’t see that happening any time soon.
Could we do better?
Maybe. I think some people will look at this list and see some of the things here as luxuries. They are definitely not necessities, that’s for sure. They do improve our quality of life though. We are trying our best to save as much as we can without going without the things we enjoy.
So I won’t be cancelling Sky, but I will be ringing them to see if they can give us a better deal. I will do my best to try and forego one takeaway a week but I won’t beat myself up of we don’t manage it. And I will try implementing a budget for personal spending in the new year.
Sometimes it helps to see the bigger picture and our goal of being mortgage free in ten years. But at the same time we need to enjoy life and without some of these things I think we would be less content. I think it’s all about finding a balance and knowing where we could cut back if we really needed to.
Working Every weekend Sucks – But we have found there are some advantages when it comes to spending less money
To some people the thought of working weekends seems pretty horrifying. However it is a reality for many, especially those working in the NHS, care, retail and hospitality. Both my partner and I have worked in either pubs or restaurants the entire time we have been together. While at times this can be pretty frustrating, we think in some ways it has saved us quite a bit of dosh. Whether were having a day out shopping or a romantic date night I really do think we save money by doing it midweek instead of at weekends.
Eating out mid-week means can make the most of our Tastecard. Offers are usually 2 for 1 or 50% off. The majority of these are available Sunday – Thursday, meaning we can take full advantage on our days off. We can relax, enjoy 3 courses and a drink without worrying about being up early the next morning. We wouldn’t get that kind of discount on a Friday or Saturday night.
Lots of our local Indian restaurants have mid week offers like 3 courses for £10.95 which is great. We also get to take advantage of cheap lunch menus that wouldn’t be available on a weekend when we are out exploring different cities or shopping.
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I love heading to the cinema on a grey weekday afternoon. It’s often really quiet and at places like Odeon it’s cheaper before 5pm. It also means we can take advantage of Meerkat Movies 2 for 1 offer or our local cinemas own discounted weeknight rates. We also sneak in snacks from poundland, but of course anyone can do that!
Not Going Out
Working weekends means we usually miss those last minute, got nothing better to do so lets go to the pub nights. And sometimes we really would love to go and join in with the drunken banter. However, it does mean we spend less by not going. When we want to go drinking mid-week no-one wants to because they all have to be up the next day. (Of course if it’s a big birthday or family event we do endeavor to book the night off and join in!)
We love going out and exploring on our days off. Whether it’s the city or the beach it’s always quieter during the week and this is one of the few perks of working weekends. Traffic isn’t as bad so we save on petrol and we get to take advantage of offers that wouldn’t necessarily be available on the weekends.
Loyalty points are great. While you should never shop anywhere just for the points, if you are buying something anyway, or you’ve found a really good bargain then they are a great added bonus. If you’re anything like me you’ll have a purse or wallet bursting with them. But do you ever think about the best way to spend them?
Do you spend your loyalty points if there is enough to cover your current transaction? Or do you save them up for special occasions like Christmas and Birthdays? Or for a treat like your favourite make-up or new computer game?
I really like to get the most of my points and get as much value out of them as I can. Here I my three favourite places to collect and spend loyalty points.
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Boots have a fantastic points system which gives 4 points per £1 spent, with several points boosts throughout the year. While I don’t shop at Boots for everyday toiletries as they’re more expensive than the supermarkets, I do like No7 make-up. The majority of my points come from that and shopping in the post Christmas 70% off sale.
Usually I save up my points to use on Christmas presents. Boots offer an excellent range of gifts, almost all of which are 3 for 2. If my Boots points can cover the cost the of three Christmas gifts (or even some wrapping paper and cards if I’ve not accumulated many) then I’m a very happy bunny .That essentially adds up to 3 gifts for free, simply by spending what I would normally spend there.
Having done a little bit of research online, it seems that people have a bit of love-hate relationship with nectar, especially as they recently changed the value of the points. I have always quite liked them though and found them to be reasonably lucrative. When I first met my partner I picked up a nectar card as I lived near a Sainsbury’s. We’d often pop in for snacks or a top-up shop. By the time we moved in together a couple of years later I had over £100 in points. This was enough to cover our first months shopping and helped us to buy all those extra things you need when starting but wouldn’t buy every week like cleaning products and condiments. We also tend to buy petrol there as it’s cheapest and close to where we live – while the points value is a bit less as we spend around £40 a week on petrol it does help top up our points.
I now save them up to buy Christmas presents. Nectar usually run a ‘double up’ towards the end of the November which is great for putting points towards gifts or food in various (but not all) departments. Last year this meant I got an Xbox one game (a gift for my brother) for £10 after doubling £15 worth of points to £30 and then paying the difference. Special promotions also allow points to be spent at Vue cinemas and Pizza express.
You can also boost your nectar points by adding points offers on the Sainsbury’s website.
Costa offer 5 points per pound spent in-store and I usually head there once a week for coffee and cake with a friend. Points seem to accumulate quite quickly and I love that they can be collected and spent on more than just coffee. Although there is no great way to add value when spending them I like to either treat a friend or my mum for free once in a while. They also offer points boosts for trying new products.