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Showing posts from October, 2012

Could I live off the state pension?

There is a lot of talk in the press of the fact that we are no longer in a double dip recession  but then in my little word it is hard to see and it is also hard to make ends meet.  We struggle to make sure we have money at the end of the month and the one area taking a hit financially is our pensions. The government is aware that many people will have to live on the current pension of £140 a week and is introducing an auto enrollment policy for pensions which means that as an employee you will automatically be included in your employer's pension. So could we live on £140 a week.  I know for a fact that we couldn't at this moment in time.  maybe once the boys leave home and the mortgage is paid off, but we still couldn't do it comfortably.  I have wrote in the past about feeding a family of four on £50, which I fear is now impossible to do well with the inflation and food cost increases. At the moment both the boys go to Beavers and play Junior football the costs

99p for a dress is just wrong

A UK online fashion retailer was selling a party dress for just 99p and was quoted (yes it was in the daily fail) saying " We recognise the fact that girls do not like to be seen in the same dress twice especially with photos circulating on social media websites. Looking good and creating a new look for each night out comes with a price tag - not any more, " 99p for a dress, even with £2.99 postage, I find this shocking in this day and age that a store can justify selling clothes for this price.  Not even many charity shops are selling clothes at that price anymore. In todays financial society it pains me to think of any company encouraging a disposable society.  I do wonder how many of these dresses will end up in landfill rather than charity shops. How do we encourage our children to "make do and mend" and to understand the value of anything if this is the sort of message they are receiving from  elsewhere .  I want my children to understand the stress

Five ways in five days - Autumn Crafts

It is half term in The Mad House this week and we will be trying get outside this half term ,  but it the weather is too wet then we will make the  most  of our family time and get our craft on!  So in honor of half term this weeks Five ways on five days focusses on Autumn crafts. If you do not want to pick the leaves with your children or they are soggy and horrible then use free autumn pintables and let your child colour them in and stick them to a tree template.  This is the perfect simple autumn craft that is great for encouraging scissor skills. There is something about the wonderful autumnal colours that make crafting at this time of the year so appealing.  We love gluing and sticking and this packing chip or playmais art is fantastic fun.  Maxi even made a bonfire and hedgehogs with the chips. You do not have to always stick to white paper, sometimes the darker nights make a great excuse for dark paper a

Make Half term "bearable" with the National Railways Museum and Paddington Bear

I have said many times before, we are huge fans of The National Railway Museum in York.  It is a free museum with stacks of attractions and things to keep everyone busy, from train mad children to train mad men! This half term it is fun with Paddington Bear.  In addition from the standard free activities and science shows, you can: Meet Paddington Dress up like Paddington Have a go at Welling Wanging and make your own medal (small charge) The NRM invited the Madhouse family to go and have a picnic with Paddington and some other bloggers  including Kate from The Five F's , (Mostly) Yummy Mummy and Bringing up Charlie and to experience the fun with our children. It pays to take  a look at the daily activity sheet which you are given on arrival, so you can plan what you want to see and when. My boys love, the storytelling and science shows and always insist on riding the steam train (£2 per adult and £1 per child).  We also spend copious amounts of time in the

Gathered by Mollie Makes - five free issues

Last month I introduced you to 91, a free online magazine .  Well this month I want to let you know that Mollie Makes (yes I have cancelled my subscription) has brought out a weekly digital ezine for the ipad and you can get the first five issues free. Gathered is a weekly craft ezine.  It is a weekly publication and costs £2.99 a month or £19.99 a year.  I haven't yet subscribed so can not tell you anything else about it.  Would love to know some more though.

Enriching the life of your young ones

Exposing a child to a lot of recreational activities and experiences from early on in their lives is likely to help them to develop a wide group of friends, enhance their socials skills and also give them a more dynamic childhood. It is often said that you should teach your children news skills when they are younger, because their brains are still developing and expanding and so they can store more information than an adult. For example, teaching them new languages during their primary days is often easier and more stimulating to a child who is eager to learn. When they grow up, the benefits of a second or a third language is self-evident, especially when considering that so many other children will have this advantage, so it is only fair that they should be given this opportunity. There are a plethora of hobbies that you can get your child engaged in from an early stage, some of which are detailed below in the hopes that it will inspire: The Arts Taking acting, paintin

Autumn Nights

Autumn Nights by mum-themadhouse on Polyvore

Taking Care of my Family

Every hour of every day, I always think about the best way to take care of my family. Whether it’s doing the basics like buying groceries or taking them out on a weekend trip to the beach or an amusement park, I do all I can to make sure they live well. However, if something bad like a serious injury affected me, I wonder whether I would be able to look after them 24/7. Would I have to leave my job because my injury prevented me from doing it? If so, I would have no income whatsoever, which would make paying for everything extremely difficult. Not having any income to rely on while I’m struggling with a serious injury will make paying for even basics like food and energy challenging. Fortunately, I discovered that there are people I can turn to in times of need. By going to Injury claims for help, I could make a compensation claim against those who caused my injury and, if successful, the money I receive could help take care of my family, meaning I have nothing to worry a

Your guide to a thrifty Christmas

Thrifty doesn’t have to mean cheap, or at least not in the Scrooge sense of the word. It simply means getting the most for your money and at no time of year is that more valuable than Christmas. Saving money at every opportunity prevents you from starting the New Year in debt, making for a much happier Christmas for all. No matter how many bargains you manage to pick up, there will always be that must-have toy that your child wants above all else. For these, check out . A Disney Store voucher code could save you twenty percent or more on high street prices. Keep looking for deals throughout the run up to the festive season. If you can’t find any for the item you are after and you are feeling brave, wait until Christmas Eve as many shops begin their sales early nowadays. Alternatively, make a home-made voucher for your child entitling them to the gift they want plus a fun day out sales shopping in town with you including lunch at their favou

Getting more from your batteries and a giveaway

New research has been revealed that one third of alkaline batteries thrown away may still have up to 67% of usable power left. Power hungry devices such as digital cameras often have a default power off switch, but this doesn't mean the battery is dead. Batteries that have been assumed ‘dead’ can be given a second life by trying them in your low drain household devices such as remote controls, clocks and torches. In order to prove this Duracell together with Energy Saving Trust sent us a Halloween party pack with torches in for us to use batteries that we previously had thought were dead in and you know what they were right! We put batteries that had previously been in Maxi's camera, which we thought were empty and they werent,  they are still powering the touch. I love this video showing just what you can do with batteries that have been thrown away: That’s not all – They have also provided an extra kit for you to give away to help you get into the

Personalised Presents for Christmas

Yes I seem to be mentioning the Christmas word a lot this week, but it is in my mind as it is half term next week and that means making christmas puddings in The Mad House ! Sometimes buying for the man in the house can be something of a challenge, but I have been looking at Poster XXL and love some of the products they offer. I know that A Thrifty Dad would love the iPad case.  He is more than happy to carry around pictures of his children and this is a novel way of doing so, at what I think is a reasonable price for an iPad case. The same goes with the iPhone bumper case.  I have seen hard covers before, but not personalised bumper cases. I was also really impressed with the cost for their poster printing .  Both the boys love posters on their walls and it would be great to get some of the pictures they take enlarged so they could use them as posters.

Five ways in five days - Halloween Edition

Do you celebrate halloween?  It seems that more and more people are joining in with this celebration from the US.  We talk about it as a time to celebrate the people that are no longer with us and with the darker nights we use the opportunity to bake and make together as a family. Day one - paper pumpkins Perfect to hang up and for children of all ages.  For younger children you can cut out the face shapes in black card. Day two - Balloon pumpkins You do not get much simpler than this.  Blow up some orange coloured balloons and then take a permanent marker (Sharpie) to make pumpkin faces on them.  Felt tip pens will just rub off. Day three - Salt Dough Ornaments  You can find the ingredients and method for  Salt Dough Halloween ornaments on The Mad House.  Day four - scary sausages Basically you get a jar of hotdogs or bratwurst and cut into chunks and skewer them with spaghetti. MaxiMad took great care at this and loved doing it, while Min

My tips for treat and treating

Do you trick and treat?  We haven't always gone out and done it as Maxi doesn't like dressing up and was afraid of people in costumes.  However, he is now seven and is happy to trick or treat, so here are my top tips for you. All dress up (yes even you) I have a witches hat that I wear when I go out with the boys, all the parents where I live dress up. Set off when it is just dusk.   Only go to houses with lights on.  We pop a lantern in our window to signify we are happy for people to visit. We tend to visit people with children, as we know they will come to us too. My boys sing a song. The sky is blue the grass is green  have you got a penny for Halloween. I have taught them that we do not ask for things.  We have some individual bags of Halloween Haribo , which are perfect trick or treat goodies, as they are single bags and it doesn't give children the opportunity to grab a handful. We also make Halloween cakes and biscuits  to give to neighbours. 

Two Thrifty Tips to Boost Your Child’s School Grades

When it comes to choosing the right materials to help ensure your children achieve the high grades required for the next level of education or to enable them to get the job they need, it’s often difficult to find ways that are both effective and affordable. Traditionally, when we thought about supplementing our children’s schoolwork, two things have sprung to mind: text books and private tutors. In theory, revision guides are great. Whether you buy them outright or borrow them from the library, they shouldn’t cost you the earth and they’ll have all the information your child needs to succeed in the specific subject. The problem, however, is that it’s hard enough trying to get adults to learn from a text book, let alone children. Most of us are auditory, visual and kinaesthetic learners – which doesn’t align with solitary ‘text book learning’. At the other end of the spectrum there’s private tuition, which can of course be very effective. Unfortunately, private tui

Be Thrifty, remember that Dental Treatment is free for Pregnant woman and a year after

Pregnancy plays havoc with our bodies, well it did mine.  It particularly did a number on my teeth, however, it does pay to remember that in the UK you get free dental treatment on the NHS during pregnancy and after for a year. Vivienne Egan who writes for Ethicare Dental has some great tips on looking after your teeth during pregnancy and why pregnancy can affect your teeth. The extra hormones firing in your body means that your gums can soften and bleed, leading to gum disease such as gingivitis, as well as tooth sensitivity and other issues which can affect both you and your baby if not addressed properly – studies are underway to find out if there is a link between gum disease and low birth weight. So how should you look after your gums and teeth during pregnancy? Have a dental check-up early in the pregnancy. Don’t stress if you need any work done, as it is safe to have fillings and other treatments during pregnancy, however consider having the work done earlier ra

Are you a Savvy Shopper?

One of our most regular spends is on food and this is why I love mySupermarket .  If you haven't heard of mySupermarket, then let me enlighten you. mySupermarket is a cash comparison site, plus much more.  It allows you to find top offers , compare prices and shop online all in one place from the UK major supermarkets, including Asda , Tesco and Sainsbury's.  You can save on average £17 when you use mySupermarket. Savvy Buys     This is a fantastic new  feature, which highlights brilliant offers that will save you at least 30% on the regular price. They are marked with a green thumbs up savvy buys symbol.  Savvy Buys are items that are REALLY good value.   Each supermarket has it's own Savvy Buys shelf, so if you are a regular shopper at one of them you can take a look and see if anything really jumps out at you.  This is a perfect thing to do as you are meal planning.  I tend to base my Sunday Dinner on which store has the best deals on meat.  I

What being Thrifty means to me

Am I a Savvy Shopper ?  I like to think so.  There was once a time when I didn't even check the bank balance before making a purchase.  When I didn't even contemplate money or not having enough of it.  But then my priorities changed and I had children. A month or so ago, I went to an event held by Savoo to meet up with other dealpro's and I chaired a session on What Thrifty means to me. What does thrifty mean to you? •thrift·y/ˈTHriftē/ •Adjective: •(of a person or their behaviour) Using money and other resources carefully and not wastefully. •Synonyms: •economical - frugal - sparing - saving - economic What thrifty/savvy means to me: •Spending wisely, using wisely and reducing waste •Value for money •Cost per use •Pleasures from small things •By planning, not just financial, but also meal plans etc as a family we reduce our waste, which has an impact on the environment •I like to think that I am provident in providing for my children’s futures •I want

Our Dream Wood Fired Stove

The Tots100 have a fab competition running in conjunction with Rated People to win £2500 worth of home updates and this being a frugal blog, I wanted to enter in a way that would save up money year on year.  We would love solar panels, but the prize of £2500 wouldn't cover that, so we took a look at the things we could do to our home to make it more economical to run and based our entry on this. So what would make the biggest difference for us would be an economical heating system.   We would love to have a wood burning stove in our living room.  We have a pretty open plan downstairs area and this would be a much more economical way of heating our home, rather than the central heating. My winter dream by mum-themadhouse featuring dearfoams We live in a new home so a lot of the home improvement that you can make to improve on the efficiency of your home are already done, but I wanted to list them below: Cavity wall insulation Loft Insulation Double Glazing In

Android Games and Gaming Apps for Smart Children

If you are blessed with a smart child, then you know how difficult it is to keep their imaginations and creativity at bound for long.  As they are quite intelligent, they quickly finish their studies, and also quickly reach the final stages of most of the video games that you brought for them. As a matter of fact it is not always possible to go out and purchase new games at frequent intervals for them. The smartphones that are Android based can come to your rescue in this aspect. There are many games available in the Android app store that are of very good quality, suitable for smart kids, and especially to your budget. Most of these games are also free to download and can keep your smart kids happy for a long time. Amazing games and gaming apps for bright kids: AniWorld Lite : This is very good app for the kids aged 1 to 5 years old. This app will help your smart kid learn the different names of the animals playfully and also get a chance to make them his pet. HomeWork:

Save up to 40% on a two night hotel break over half term

QHotels   have a fantastic October half-term offer  where families can save up to 40% on a two-night break (2 adults / 2 children). They have also introduced a new kid’s menu – “Quackers!” which kids can enjoy for free during October half-term. In case  you've  not heard much of QHotels before – they are an independently owned hotel group with 21 individual hotels across the UK. ‘ The Quackers ’ children’s menu aims to encourage children to take an interest in food and opens up their taste buds to some mouth-watering and delicious meals. Melon with raspberry sauce and strawberry, cheddar cheese and baby spinach leaf salad are just two of the delicious starters on offer, giant salmon fish finger and fajitas encourage children to be adventurous and mixed fruit kebab and banana split are two healthy dessert options.   Even better there are also vegetarian options and also cater for children who are gluten intolerant. With the October half term holiday only a

Five ways in Five days

I have decided to start a weekly post, giving you 5 ways in 5 days to make changes, that hopefully will become habit over the weeks and months. Five ways in five days to make autumn savings Do not buy a coffee on the way in to work. Have a go at making your own. Close the curtains as soon as dusk comes. Keep the warm in and the cold out. Collect seeds from any of your flowers, you can swap these with other gardeners rather than buying new next year. Learn how to make your own pastry. Home made pies are frugal as you can use leftovers and so much nicer than shop bought ones. check your car's lights, a new bulb is so much cheaper than a fine from the police for driving with a headlight out.

Ten Reasons to Maintain Your Car

Sometimes, we can't help but put off car repairs or routine maintenance. This can be due to a lack of funds, time or resources, but it can also be simply because we don't understand what a car needs to run well. In the same way we all took driving lessons before we first took the wheel, you may need a refresher in the benefits of keeping your car running well. Keep Your Car Running Longer A well-maintained vehicle is much more likely to meet the 10, 15 and 20 year benchmarks that we would all love to see. This is because any problems have either been prevented or simply not allowed to get worse due to not being fixed. Maximize Your Investment Like nearly everything else, a car's value is determined in large part by its condition, so it stands to reason that a car in good shape will be worth more in the long run than an identical model that has been neglected. Protect your investment by maintaining your vehicle. Improved Fuel Economy A vehicle that has regu