The Results Are In For My Money Saving Challenge!

Ever since we returned from our recent holiday to Sardinia the boys have been asking when we can go on holiday again. It’s sparked a love of travel and rekindled some much-needed quality family time which money simply can’t buy; unfortunately money is the underpinning precursor to any future travel plans. So planning is what I’ve been doing.

When it comes to money I’ve had my head in the sand a little recently. I’m balancing incomings and outgoings on a single wage but the nature of my job means invoices are paid sporadically and I often survive on a famine and feast cycle of work so I have to be very careful and disciplined.

Only I’m neither!

Historically, May and June have always been very expensive months for me as my children have their birthdays as well as my sister and then there’s treating my awesome Dad and Step Dad on father’s day, throw half term in the middle and that’s me pretty much spent out. To keep out of the red, I needed to cut back on other things so I’ve been keeping a diary of my spending over 10 days to see exactly where I can be a little more stringent and ways I can put some money aside for saving.

For anyone who’s never done this before, I can wholly recommend it! While informative, be prepared for a little shock. I’ve always considered myself to be quite a careful shopper, but in hindsight there’s certainly some cut backs to be made, and a little more discipline needed over impulse spending. Bottom line is I’m a working single mum bringing up 3 children but trying not to let them suffer for the whole family make up they’re still adapting to.

Dining out

Over last week though, I spent £97 on eating out! That’s including impromptu coffees, impulsive / can’t be bothered to cook takeaways and date nights. Just cutting that by half would save me £2,522 a year. That alone would equal a decent family holiday. This is certainly one area I can be more careful. 

Potential savings – £48.50

Petrol

I topped up my car with £30 of petrol last week, which is pretty average. This was for essential shopping trips, a couple of longer trips for dentist and work appointments and some totally avoidable trips to drop off or pick up my son from pre-school (it was raining in my defence.) I think if I stop being lazy on the pre-school run (it’s a 10 minute walk so is totes lazy of me) and be a little more clever with my shopping, i.e; make sure I get everything in 1 shop instead of a few mini shops then I could bring my petrol spending down to £20 a week. That’s still £80 a month on top of repairs, tax and insurance which is something to consider when buying my next car and weighing it up against a newer one with cheaper running costs, tax, insurance and reliability.

Potential savings – £10

Food

Last week’s food bill, in total, was £90.86. I try to keep it at around £60 which isn’t bad for a family of 4. The older boys have school dinners which cost me around £80 a month and I send my youngest to pre-school with a packed lunch twice a week and snacks on the other days. Given that the youngest 2 are at their dad’s 2 or 3 times a week that’s only 5 big meals I have to cook as my eldest & I do a WFOTF job (what falls out the freezer) By writing menus, then shopping lists and only replacing toiletries which have run out I can be A LOT more disciplined. My weaknesses are special offers, they get me every time. I need to stick to my list and ignore the potential savings. I currently have 3 hand washes sat under my sink, I have boys for heaven’s sake, we will never get through that amount of hand wash in a year let alone a month.

Potential savings – £30

Clothes / shoes

We recently had a family wedding  which has meant having to buy some new clothes. I think I’ve been super careful though. I’ve bought a second-hand Ted Baker dress from eBay, second-hand waistcoats for 2 of the boys and posh trainers which I shopped around for and paid £97 for 3 pairs, they all needed new trainers so this was an essential spend. If I hadn’t been so shop savvy I would’ve spent £338, instead it’s cost me £191, with last week’s spending £141. I don’t usually spend that amount on clothes a week so can’t count that as a regular spend.

Potential saving – £0

 

Presents

As mentioned earlier, June is one of my expensive months for gifts so last week I spent £36 on gifts. I’m a giver though, not a bad quality to have, unless you’re trying to cut back! I guess that’s pretty normal though as I try to buy Christmas presents throughout the year so it’s not too painful come December.

Potential saving –£0

Conclusion

£88.50 a month which amounts to £4,602 a year is the amount I could be saving if I was a little more careful with my spending. When looking at it that way, that’s more than enough for the family holiday the boys and I are hankering after and maybe some to spare for a long weekend away. This has been a fantastic exercise to do and given me an opportunity to have a complete look at all my outgoings as well as ways I can make sure I’m living within my means and not using overdrafts and credit cards.

improving your credit sore

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This is a collaborative post with Scottish Friendly

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Win A Bamboo Towel Bundle From The Towel Shop

My little sister and I were having one of our typical mammoth chats last week during which I confessed to  never having bought a towel. EVER. Crazy if you think of the fact that I left home 20 years!  It’s not that I’m living life towel free or  I’ve been a conscious towel buying avoider or my current collection is looking old and knackered. Far from it. It’s simply been a case of having a perpetual towel buying mum who’s passed hers on to me and my siblings. The end result of said conversation was that along with my brother and sister, we’ve never had to buy a towel once!

So that was it, I was on a mission, time to be all adult and do some towel shopping research !

But where to start?

When you’ve never had to even blink in the direction of what to look for I was starting from scratch. First to replace our hand me downs, was a bundle of bamboo towels.

It turns out that a  Bamboo towel is three times more absorbent than Cotton ones making post bath times with a lively toddler a little easier, plus the perfect material to make towels from. Being super soft, I’ve not noticed anything different from my current cotton ones so it does seem to the way to go, and if you’d like to join me and see for yourself then read on….

Ever wondered what the difference is between and bamboo and a cotton towel? Here's your chance to find out in this easy giveaway
The The Towel Shop are offering one lucky reader the chance to win a bundle of bamboo towels consisting of a bath sheet, a bath towel, a hand towel and a face cloth in a colour of your choice simply by entering the giveaway below.

It’s open to UK residents over the age of 18 and there is no cash alternative and winners details will be passed onto The Towel Shop who are providing the prize.

Enter Competition

 

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Interior Trends To Look Out For In 2017

A new year is the perfect time to rethink your image and revisit some health kicks but  it’s also a good time to give your house a fresh new look as well. And with spring being prime time to put your house on the market, by  having the interior up to date could help you to sell your house as well as having a positive impact on the valuation; It should help generate more interest from buyers can picture themselves living in a home more easily when they like the interior design. Even if you’re not thinking of selling up this year, here’s some interior trends to look out for in 2017 to help bring your style bang up to date.

Be seen in green

The 2017 Pantone colour of the year is ‘Greenery’ – a refreshing, new and vibrant colour to give your home that feeling of the great outdoors. Pantone have remarked

‘the more submerged people are in modern life, the greater their innate craving to immerse themselves in physical beauty and inherent unity of the natural world’.

So, try to relax your mind and paint, decorate and furnish your house in the beautiful greens of the natural world!

interior design trends 2017

Beautiful butterflies

According to Elle décor, girlish butterflies are making a comeback. (must admit, I never knew they’d left!)  If it’s something you’d like to try, go big and think 3D with butterflies that look as though they’ve landed all over your walls in your home. Elle says that butterflies are ‘a symbol of both grace and optimism’ so fill your home with this positive energy, something I try to practice daily so this is one design thought I will be bringing in to my home.  If you’re not sure about giving this trend a go, try it in a child’s room rather than adding butterflies to your living room.

Bohemian means business

That bohemian style rug you bought years ago? It’s just getting more stylish by the year, so keep display it with pride! For a few more additions to the hippy vibe, find some scatter cushions and sew on a pompom border for that layered and textured effect. The key for this look is for items to look homemade and artisan, so instead of faking it, have a go at making it.

Moody wood And Natural textures

After the take over of light colour and sanded back wood, you might have to undo all of that work and get your dark paintbrushes out… 2017 will see the resurgence of richer and darker tones. This works better in rooms that are best for chilling out in such as the living room; keep bathrooms and kitchens bright and fresh.

Bringing the outdoors in seems to be the theme of 2017 with the butterflies, greens and smoky wood colours. Well, take this a step further with introducing terracotta into your home along with natural cork, marble, rattan and metals. You’ll also need plenty of houseplants to make the colours pop and keep everything looking fresh.

Follow this tips and you’ll see that your house is the trendiest on the street this year!

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A Fresh New Kitchen Look & A Recipe To Match

It doesn’t seem that long since I was planning the kitchen in my new extension. I had a vision of how I wanted it to look and it complimented the general theme of the whole downstairs transformation.  Nearly four years on and I’m starting to fall out of love with it. The basis for my choice back then was a kitchen design which wouldn’t date. The shaker style I chose, with sage green doors and solid oak worktops ticked every box.

The rustic, cottage style which dominates my house is still looking good, it’s just my tastes, they are a changin’ so lets play a game where I pretend I have some spare cash which can only be spent on revamping my kitchen. Mmmmmmm, what to do?

Well, for starters I’m all about the light right now. So a fresh, modern style would really float my boat. With clean modern lines and clutter free feature worktops. My current oak ones look fab and bring real warmth into my kitchen but they’re not proving the most practical with marks from daily washing up as well as a leaky boiler and I’m pretty rubbish at remembering to oil it. With a modern kitchen you can really go to town on the extras such as under plinth light shows and fancy slash backs. I’m all for the final touches such as hidden counter top sockets and iPhone docking stations.

But should I not feel brave enough for something which could potentially age quickly, then I’d stick with the clean fresh feel but in something a little more traditional. This grey kitchen compliments the modern white perfectly and would be much more suited to my love a good range cooker. I’ve spied some perfect Belling freestanding cookers which would suit this style as be the perfect back drop for the Kitchen Aid mixer I’ve longed for for years.

Anyway, a girl can dream. In the meantime, it’s back to reality and keeping my fingers crossed for that big bucks win every Saturday night.


Blueberry Cheesecake Gateaux Ingredients 

Cake

  • 255 g  self-raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon  baking powder
  • 225 g  caster sugar
  • 225 g  butter (room temperature)
  • 4  eggs
  • vanilla essence
  • 1 tbs  milk

Topping

  • 400 g cream cheese
  • 1 lemon (zest & juice)
  • 110 g  icing sugar
  • 2 handfuls of  blueberries

Blueberry Cheesecake Gateaux Method

Preheat oven to 180’c (160’c fan oven) & line 3 x 7″ sandwich tins or one deep tin.

Put the flour, sugar, butter, baking powder eggs, vanilla essence, milk into a large mixing bowl  and mix until it has the consistency of sticking to the back of a spoon.

Divide equally between each tin and back in the centre of the oven for approx 20 mins. Check by inserting a clean skewer or knife to see if it comes out clean.

Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Prepare the topping by combining all the ingredients. Once the cake has cooled completely, spread each layer equally and finish with the blueberries.

a recipe for a delicious blueberry cheesecake gateaux, moist and tasty it's the perfect centrepiece for an afternoon tea

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