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Showing posts from 2013

My 2014 Financial Plans

Each year I assign a word for the forthcoming year last years word was Joy and you can read more about it over on the Mad House and this years word Nurture . However I thought it was high time I set an annual plan, in addition to my seasonal manifesto's So for 2014 my financial word of the year is Prudence prudence ˈpruːd(ə)ns/ noun 1 . the quality of being prudent; cautiousness. "we need to  exercise prudence  in such important matters" synonyms: wisdom, judgement, good judgement, judiciousness, sagacity,shrewdness, advisability, common sense, sense "foresters argue about the prudence of drastic thinning" caution, cautiousness, care, carefulness, canniness, chariness,wariness, circumspection; far-sightedness, foresight, forethought; discretion "an elder counselled prudence" thrift, thriftiness, providence, good management, careful budgeting,economy, canniness, frugality, abstemiousness; forehan

Navigating the Sales - our purchases

Do you love or loath the January Sales? I have been pretty under the weather since returning from holiday and had a hit list of items that we needed from the sales that we had saved for. Yes, I saved money for the sales.  I knew what we needed and this year decided to define what a bargain was.  We decided things were only bargains if we needed them.   So what was on our list. Clothes for Maxi Mad.  Gap Outlet store (40% additional off sales items).  Perfect for long sleeved tops to go under summer t shirts.  Fat face.  Great quality that lasts for both boys and gets passed on. Mini Boden.  Maxi has a love of tartan baggies.  John Lewis. Fab PJ's Juicy Tots.  We love  Maxomorra  clothes. MadDad A new suit for work - M&S outlet. Ties Work shirts Everyday clothes from fat face Mini Mad Headphones - HMV 50% off Me A new sewing machine - John Lewis Household Wrapping for next Christmas New Roasting tray

Why I love Poundland, especially at this time of year

I am a huge lover of Poundland .  As a thrifty Mum how can I not be?  I used to love going in with my Mum and looking for bargains and know that it is the place to look before shopping at most of the other stores. They recently gave me £20 in vouchers and asked me to go shopping for Christmas and I was delighted with what I got. Horrid Henry Books x 2 - £1 each Perfect for the boys friends for Christmas Find the Meerkat book - £1 for my Where's Wally loving Maxi Fantastic Red felt table mats x 6 - £1 each Red felt coasters x 4 - £1 for all  four 3 cadbury selection boxed - £2 (three for two), gifts for the boys little friends A giant candy cane - £1 for Mini's stocking Cupcake cases x 100 - £1 for a gift Haribo pack - £1 - perfect stocking fillers Batteries - £1 a pack.  Why go anywhere else and they last too. Chocolate coins x 2 -  £1 a pack for the boys Christmas Eve Bag . Lightening Wire - £1 for a certain christmas present. I have been unwell and in hosp

New Year, New You

The New Year is a great time for a spot of reinvention, and the perfect opportunity for fresh starts and a new outlook. Along with making some resolutions about the coming year, you might also like to have a bit of a physical transformation to go along with your new mind-set. By combining both lifestyle changes and changes to aspects of your look, you can have a whole new you for the coming year, so start planning the 2014 version of yourself now! Quit something Let’s face it, everyone has a bad habit or seven, and most people can think of something they might be able to give up that would improve their lives. Whether it’s something big like smoking, or something a little less extreme like hoarding or impulse buying, the New Year is a great excuse to give it up and stick to it. Before the clock strikes midnight put measures in place to dissuade you from your bad habit, such as a penny pot for money you are saving, or an incentive like a chart with a monthly reward. If you mana

Portable North Pole - A personalised Video Message from Sata

Each year the boys look forward to their personalised video message from Father Christmas and The Portable North Pole . It has become a family tradition and it is great to see the improvements that PNP have made over the years.  Initially Father Christmas never said the boys names, then only Maxi's and now he also can say Mini's too! You can pop your child's details in and a photo of them for the basic video.  My boys are seven and eight and we are holding on to the tradition of Father Christmas for as long as possible and the joy on their faces when they see the video is just great. This year there are more options, so both the boys video's are different and it looks as though they are just for them and they both said they were different from last years! Now I am off to make me one and put myself on the good list!

#XmasJumperDay - The Alvin Edition

Never one to miss a thing Alvin, our eight month old Bichon Frishe has joined in the fun as today is #XmasJumperDay. Want to know more about #XmasJumperDay then pop over to Thinly Spread and Christine will tell you about it much better than I can.   Donate a Pound  Text TEAMTHINLYS to 70050  or   pay in here  * The wonderful jumper that Alvin is wearing was sent to him from Pets at Home as part of a Christmas Hamper to celebrate his first Christmas. 

Things that are Easily Forgotten at Christmas

With a million and one things to think about at Christmas, it’s only natural that one or two things may slip to the back of your mind, or get forgotten about completely. After all, we can only be superheroes 364 days of the year, surely? We’ve made a list of some of the most common things that people forget about in a bid to avoid the last minute stomach drop when you realise on Christmas Eve that you’ve forgotten the turkey. (Ok, we don’t think anyone is quite that bad, but still). Cards Seems a little obvious, but then some of the easiest things to forget are. If doing some of your shopping online, why not look for stores that offer cards as well? That way you can tick two things off your list at once. Charity cards are a great way to spread a little more Christmas cheer and are a lovely way to donate to your favourite cause. Or you could even make cards your own like we do .  That one gift There always seems to be one person that turns up at your house who you’d j

How your credit card can reward you this Christmas

Christmas is a time for giving, with even big businesses making an effort to help. If you play your cards right, you'll find your credit provider is just as tuned in to the spirit of the season as your family. Cashback One of the simplest ways to make the most of your Christmas spending is with credit card cashback schemes. The most generous offers can repay as much as 5% of your spend, which means that it really does pay to make your Christmas purchases on a credit card. The crucial proviso is to ensure that you stick to a reasonable budget so that you can pay off your bill at the end of the month, to avoid letting your interest costs dwarf the gains you make from cashback. Reward schemes Many credit cards come with reward schemes, which accumulate points for every pound spent. These points can then be redeemed for a huge range of essential and desirable goods and services, ranging from flights to electrical goods and even groceries. The best way to make the most of

Are you saving for your future - pension jargon explained.

There has been a lot of news in the UK press this last week about the retirement age for state pension rising and this got me thinking about pensions and saving for our future. Pensions and all the jargon about them really confuse me, so I have decided to try and explain some of the Pension jargon. Superannuation - Superannuation is essentially what employers pay employees into their retirement funds State Pension - The pension that you will revive from the government when you reach their appointed retirement age. Private Pension - These fall in to three main catagories. Standard pensions.  This is where you and/or your employer make regular monthly payments Stakeholder pensions . These are similar to standard pensions, but have low and flexible minimum contributions, capped charges and a default investment choice so you don't have to make the decision where to put your cash. Self-invested personal pensions (Sipps).  These work in the same way but are DIY pensions, all

Our Christmas Decorations

Being out of the country for the start of Advent has left me somewhat not in the Christmas mood.  Also I find it really difficult since my Mum died two years ago on Christmas Eve.  However, it is really important to me to keep the magic alive for the boys for as long as I possibly can. One of the ways I do this is to have a number of traditions that we do each year.  The boys look forward to them and it really helps me find joy in the small things. So far this year, we have spend Saturday evening putting up our Christmas Tree.  Each year we get the boys to buy a new ornament and putting the tree up is a real trip down memory lane for us all.  We talk about when each decoration is from and what it means to us.  Also a lot of the decorations were my mums, so we talk about Christmas past when I was growing up.  Also the boys were both gifted a Christmas ornament as a Christening gift by a dead friend who is no longer with us, so each year they place that on the tree and remember her


Most parents will tell anyone that listens about the tales of tantrums and terribleness, tears and trauma that can accompany bedtime for tiny tots. In fact, sometimes it lasts way past infancy and well into primary school. Of course, there are always going to special occasions when the kids are just too excited to go to sleep when it’s bedtime. The night before Christmas, their birthday, a holiday or even favoured relatives coming to visit, all these add up to more night’s than a parent would like to have to get into a wrestling match at bedtime! One key point in helping your child trot happily off to bed, is to NEVER alter their nightly routine unless it is absolutely necessary. Same time to bed and same time to wake up in the morning is said to be they key to setting a child’s body clock and keeping a beneficial balance to their sleep/wake cycle. Even a lie-in on a weekend can damage their internal body clock, so trying to stick to a regular routine is important. Bed Time

Do you limit and keep an eye on your childrens screen time?

We are currently on holiday and it has been one blessed with very little screen time and lots of family time.  A real reminder of our summer in the UK, where my boys spent most of their spare time out in the fresh air with friends. However, we are returning back to a very cold and dark UK this week and I know that this will mean that the boys are going to want to use their screens again.  Part of me knows that this is just due to the dark nights and cold, but part of me really wishes I had the guts to got screen free. It is really hard for me to know what to think of screens and electronic time and I am aware of the fact that I spend my day working in front of a PC and I do not want to be hypocritical with the do as I say not as I do quote, but I am also aware that this is the first generation with such access to the internet etc. So we do have some very basic rules: No screens after 6pm No aggressive games No screens if you have been bad No screens at dinner or any other s

Making Christmas and Advent Magical

I adore Christmas Time and one of the ways that I make it magical is by taking time out each day during advent to do an activity with the boys. It doesn't have to be a long time, but even sitting down together and having a special hot chocolate gives us time out to appreciate each other and to try and remove the focus of christmas away from Christmas Day and the presents. So I wanted to share with you some posts I have recently done on Mum in The Mad House about Christmas and our advent traditions:   Do you have a Christmas Elf, then do come and share his antics on #ElfCam on social media  Why not try making ornaments that are longer lasting that salt dough with air drying clay Christmas eve is my most favorite day of the festive season, so join us in making Christmas Eve Gift Bags   Why not make our very simple animal friendly reindeer food Looking for advent activity inspiration , well look no further than here! 

Save money in your home - The Hallway

This week I am concentrating on ways to save money in the entrance way to your home.  We often forget this area, but it is the first place that you see and also the front line between the elements and your home. Keep heat in your home by adding a door curtain to your front door.  You can line it with a cheap fleece blanket rather than buying expensive thermal lined curtains. Use a draft excluder at the bottom of your door. Make sure your letter box has draft excluders installed.  We just changed ours at the cost of £5 and it has made a really big difference. Use all those charity bags you get through the door to line bin's throughout the house! Installed LED bulbs in your lights.  Lights in hallways are often on for longer than any other within the house. Previous posts in this series include: Money saving tips for the bathroom

10 Tips for General Clothes Care

Clothes are expensive and I try to ensure that the clothes we have are looking the best they can and that means caring for them. So here are my top 10 tips for looking after your clothes. Rub zipper teeth with the stub of a candle to keep them running effectively.  You can also use graphite pencil lead to do this. Clean velcro with a pin, removing any fluff or cottons, so they they stick effectively Remove lint, either with a lint roller or with tape wrapped the wrong way round your hand (so the sticky side is on the outside) Launder your clothes correctly A dab of clear nail polish in the centre of buttons will stop the cotton fraying and keep the buttons on for longer Steam clothes to remove creases or offensive smells either with a steamer or by hanging in the bathroom whilst you have a shower. Repair any damage.  I repair any holes and I am a big fan of Jennie Maizels Clothes Plasters for iron on repairs. Only wash clothes when they are dirty, each wash damages the fab

Win a £60 Amazon Voucher with Barclaycard Freedom Rewards and A Thrifty Mum

Barclaycard Freedom Reward Card asked me to take their  60 second survey to see what shopping tribe I was part off .   Barclaycard and Brunel University have collaborated to research the modern way in which we shop and how UK shoppers can now be defined into four new shopping tribes.  I am a Bargain Hunter Gatherer: You're an expert at collecting the best tools, voucher codes and loyalty cards to make your budget go as far as possible, week in, week out. While the kids are doing their homework, you're doing yours - grabbing the best savings for your family. Key facts about you: You're most likely to be female, married or living with your partner and living in the north of the UK. You lot are busy. Two thirds of you cleverly juggle your home, work and financial life. You're not easily tempted by big discounts, only 35% of you have ever bought a non-essential item you didn't need because of a special offer. Home really is where the heart is - 42% of you

Lets talk about cost versus value

How can you be a thrifty or frugal blogger when you are reviewing a pair of boots that cost £125?  Well before I get to the review I want to cover the cost versus value argument. My last pair of BIker Boots cost £110 and lasted over eight years.  I wore them most days over the winter.  So lets say I wore them 90 days a year over 8 years that is 720 days wear, which makes then around 15p per wear. Contrast that to the pair I got in replacement last winter that cost £30 for a well known supermarket that didn't even last two months! So I have decided I would rather save up and buy something that will last and is comfortable and that has more value to me. Anyway on to the boots - Dr Martins Diza Ankle Biker Boot from Cloggs, which are 124.99. I adore them.  They are hard wearing, stylish but more than that they have an air cushioned sole which makes them bliss to wear. I was concerned that they didn't have a zip and that I would find them hard to get on as I have a

Walking with Dinosaurs Free colouring pages

When we are at the cinema watching Turbo, the boys were captivated by the Trailer for Walking with Dinosaurs, which is out in December.  They also love these colouring in sheets too.

5 ways to save money in the bathroom - Thrifty Household Tips

Over the coming weeks, I am going to be looking at ways to save money in each of the rooms in your home.  I am going to try and avoid the obvious ones and come up with some new ones. Squeeze your toilet roll, so the tube isnt round.  That way it is harder to remove loads of loo roll making it last longer.  Perfect it you have children that use far too much. Cut the bottom or top off your products to make sure you get the most out of them. Do not leave the tap running when you are brushing your teeth.  Did you know when you brush your teeth under running water you can use as much as 10 litres of water per minute To help keep the water in your bath warmer, remove the panel off your bath and stuff the area under the bath with either loft insulation or even newspaper before putting the panel back on. Adjust Your Water Heater:  Home water heaters are almost always set too high - adjust your water heater to 60 degrees, the recommended temperature for a hot water heater as set by

The Three Most Child-Friendly Pieces of Tech This Christmas

We’ve passed the threshold of Halloween, which means that Christmas is well and truly on its way. The advertisements on TV herald its arrival. Now is the time when the shrewd Christmas shoppers get in before the apocalyptic rush through most of December. It’s true that children these days can work out most pieces of technology, but some are more child-friendly than others. Here are my top three suggestions: 3 rd Place – Fujifilm FinePix Sadly, playing outside with trees and nature is fighting a losing battle against playing inside with high-tech gadgets and games. A great way to join the two together is to encourage your children to take lots of photographs. If you get your child a digital camera, you can take them out on trips and tell them they are responsible for the day’s photo album. You’ll be amazed how eager your child will be to go outside if they are encouraged to take as many photos as possible. The Fuji FinePix is a great digital camera for kids as it is waterpr

WIn £100 to Spend at Cotton Traders with Savoo

I am one of those people that has real issues with wellies.  I have a high instep and really wide feet, but with a puppy and two football playing monsters I need waterproof boots.  Thankfully Cotton Traders have come to the rescue with their Highland Waterproof Boots . Not only are they waterproof, they have a lovely warm lining and will keep my feet toasty as well as dry.  I can also get them on easily as they have a zip.  They are going to make dog walking and football watching so much more fun. Currently Savoo have a competition to win £100 at Cotton Traders on the Savoo Facebook Page . How cool are these Christmas Jumpers !  Make sure you check out Savoo's site for any exclusive cotton trader voucher codes before you order then though! Disclosure: Cotton Traders sent me a pair of the  Highland Waterproof Boots .  

Do you allow technology in the bedroom?

Anyone that knows me will know that our bedrooms are a technology free zone.  We also have a screen free rule for the boys after 6pm.  It seems as though I am in the minority! Sleeping with Technology in the Bedroom - An infographic by Carpetright Beds

Free Dear Santa Letter from Wink Designs

How cool is this free printable Dear Santa Letter from the very talented Wink Designs. All you need so is print it off from the goodies section of her online store.  Whilst you are at it why not take a look at the amazing prints there too.

Dairy Diary 2014 and the Clever One Pot Cookbook

The Dairy Diary really brings back so many memories for me.  Every year my mum used to get one from the milk man and then she would li9ne them up with her cookbooks, as she swore by the recipes in it. For anyone who has never seen a Dairy Diary before, then take a look at the video below and you will see why it has stood the test of time. In addition to the Dairy Diary I was also sent a copy of The Clever One pot cookbook and I have to say we are hooked.  This is  truly  a book for the ipad generation.   It uses QR codes - each recipe has a 'barcode' you can scan on your phone or tablet to automatically create you a text file as a shopping list of all the ingredients you will need, which is just fantastic. I have been testing out some of the recipes and they go from super simple to a couple of hours cooking time, but one that has been requested three times since I made it is the rustic vegetable pilaf. It is  certainly   becoming  a much  thumbed  book when it