Are Single Parents Being Penalised? #CostOfSingleParenting

Single ParentsPhoto by S&B Vonlanthen on Unsplash

One thing you may or may not know about me is that I am basically a professonal bargain hunter. I never pay full price for anything, unless I’ve fully satisfied myself that there’s not a discount code or voucher that I can use, or some way to bring a price down before buying. I collect points for everywhere I shop, never EVER pay full price for a pizza without searching for a voucher code and I even shop around every three months to get my contact leanses at the cheapest price.

This summer, we’ve been trying to do things as a family and we’ve been fortunate to get ‘family’ tickets for a lot of places, thanks to the fact that we’re a “two adults and two kids” family, which is where most discounts are firmly aimed. However, it got me thinking about the fact that single parents are being penalised and missed out of discount opportunities, despite the fact that with just one adult, they’re probably in greaterneed of offers and discounts than anyone.

PayPlan has put together an infographic showing the true cost of the summer holidays to a single-parent family and some of the figures are truly eye-opening:

Do Single Parents Feel Penalised?

As well as missing out on the discounts, being the sole breadwinner must be daunting for many. I thought I’d ask some of my single parent friends if they felt that they were penalised for being a non-conventional family and about the difficulties they’ve faced. Here are some of their comments:

Zoe (Insta: runningonempty_mummy) said “I’m new to the single mum world and notice it all the time – family tickets [aimed at 2 adults and 2 kids], holidays abroad – I got charged a supplement, kids eat free with two adult meals bought etc”

Sarah said “I’m not a single parent but I travel and go out a lot on my own with my 5 year old. I find I can’t use child free places on holidays, I have to sometimes pay single Supplement in rooms as he’s only 5, I can’t take advantage of family deals at the cinema (even with the husband we don’t have enough kids to make the min number) I also effectively pay more per head on the train as well as with groupsave other adults can travel free bringing cost per person.”

Mandy said ” I had an argument in [a cinema] once; they had this promotion on for families for tickets and like a snack combo thing, which worked out cheaper than me and sienna and a snack combo, but they wouldn’t let me have it”

Sian said “Not [a single parent] anymore, but continue to be sick of having to be quizzed as to who I am to my daughter when bringing her home from abroad get no one ever cares what kids I’m taking out the country!! Just because we made the mistake of putting a fathers name on birth cert doesn’t mean we should be interrogated and humiliated at every UK airport!”

Toni said “Private renting is my biggest problem. I work but obviously don’t earn enough to be able to private rent a house without claiming top up and no one accepts it. So i am left renting a damp house with a leaky ceiling because I am worried if i complain i will be evicted and homeless.”

Are you a single parent? Do you feel like you’re overlooked when it comes to money saving opportunities? Do you experience other difficulties? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, please do leave me a comment below.

The Advantages of Leasing a Family Car

The Advantages of Leasing a Family CarIf you’re in the market for a new vehicle, you may be thinking about buying one, either old or new. There are, however, a lot of reasons to consider leasing a car, instead of owning one outright. Here, we look at five reasons for leasing a car and why it could be the best decision for your family:

Spec Upgrade

Most people who lease a car find that they’re able to afford a much better model than they would if they were buying the car outright.  your monthly payments are typically lower compared with other forms of finance, so you can lease a better make, trim or option. Take a look at Blue Chilli Car Leasing Deals. 

Peace of Mind

With a lease car, you’re going to be driving a brand new car, rather than one which is older. This means that you’re less likely to have breakdowns or issues which cause the car to be unreliable, so you’ll have peace of mind that you’re driving your family around in something to rely on.

No MOT

Because lease cars are usually brand new, they also won’t need an MOT. In fact, new cars don’t need an MOT until they’re three years old, so if you choose continue to upgrade your vehicle after a year or two, you’ll never need to deal with nail-biting MOTs again!

Easy Monthly Budgeting

Apart from fuel and insurance, when you lease a car you know exactly what motoring is going to cost you because your expenses are rolled into one – monthly payments, Road Fund licence and breakdown cover. And if you include a maintenance package, your ability to budget becomes even stronger

Value

When you purchase a new car, the value depreciates the second you drive it off of the dealers forecourt, but when you lease a car this is no longer a worry. You don’t have to worry about fluctuations in the car’s trade-in value or go through the hassle of selling it when it’s time to move on.

Tech to Make Running a Small Business Easier

Whether you’re working from home as a one man band, setting up a side hustle in your spare time, or run a business which employs lots of people, there are certain bits of tech which can really make your life easier. We’ve put together a list of the top five tech items you can buy which will help to take your business to the next level:

A Good Camera

This won’t apply to all small business, but if you’re selling products or run a business which depends upon you have decent images to display then a good camera should be one of your main investments. If you don;t have thousands to spend but still want a high-end set up, look online for second hand stuff – lots of people plunge hundreds and even thousands of pounds on photography equipment, only to realise they never use it, and then sell it on for way under the new price.

Packing Machines

If your business requires you to package something, then investing in a packing machine from C Pack Ltd will save you time and money in the long run. They have machines which can package just about anything and they’re guaranteed to do it quicker and with less error than a human! They’ll even build a custom packing machine for your exact requirements.

Cloud Services

The old fashioned way of doing things still clings on in some respects, with many people struggling to trust Cloud services because they’re just not as tangible as paper files or a physical hard drive. However, Cloud services are actually the safer and more reliable way to store your data and you’re less likely to suffer a loss with one of these services.

Chatbots

You might see chatbots as something way out of your business’ league, or as something that’s just a bit too futuristic for your needs, but using chatbot software to deal with some of your communications can save you a lot of time and money in the long run.

Security

Ransomware has become a billion-dollar business and that makes sense: it’s finally a way for clever hackers to actually make money with their malware. We read about the stories of hotels, transit systems and city governments brought to their knees by security breaches like this, but we don’t hear of the thousands of small businesses that are also affected. To protect yourself you need to use a good cloud backup service, keep your operating systems updated and use a good security application in your company.

How to Add a Touch of Luxury to Your Home

Photo by Sidekix Media on Unsplash

With house prices on the rise and wages seemingly stagnating, more people than ever are choosing to renovate and extend their current properties, rather than moving elsewhere. There’s scope to add value to your home when making big changes and a lot of this potential lies in the quality of the finish, so with that in mind, we thought we’d talk to you about 5 ways to add a luxury feel to your home:

Bathrooms

Anyone can go and buy a budget bathroom from a massive store and give their washroom a nicer feel, but the luxury possibilities of a bathroom are one of the biggest draws for a buyer. Lots of people will consider buying a house with terrible decor everywhere else, as long as the bathroom has amazing fittings. Insignia Steam Showers are one example of high-end fixtures that will really add value to your home.

Curtains

Cheap window coverings might do for a while, but thick, luxurious drapes will make your home feel a million bucks. Opt for soft colours like light grey or mink, which are neutral but elegant and this will give every room the feel of a high-class hotel room.

Ornaments NOT Clutter

While we aren’t suggesting minimalism for your home (it’s not hugely practical for families, is it?), decluttering your rooms and then dressing them with carefully chosen ornaments and other dressings will help to give your house a “put together” feel, rather than making people feel like they’ve walked into a jumble sale!

Kitchen

A kitchen is another huge expense, but you don’t have to rip it out and start again to give your kitchen an update. My gorgeous friend Jen from Love Chic Living, and person I turn to for all of my interiors inspiration, actually painted her kitchen units and replaced her tiles and you wouldn’t believe that it’s even the same kitchen. Read her post to see the completed makeover.

Plants

Plants…well cared for plants, make a room look great. However, if you’re the sort of person who could kill the hardiest cactus from 100 paces, why not opt for some fake foliage? There are some incredibly real-looking fake plants out there these days, and apart from a little flick over with a duster every now and then, you don’t need to do a thing to care for them.

How to Reduce the Stresses of Moving, by a Serial Mover

How to Reduce the Stresses of Moving, by a Serial MoverThe average person has moved house 5 times in their life, which means that Husband and I are WELL above average – I’m currently in house number 14 and I think Husband is around the same! If moving this many times has taught us anything, it’s that there are a few things that you can do to reduce the stress of moving house. Happy Beds recently conducted a survey of 2,000 people from across the country to find out how buying and selling has affected their kip and discover what moving issues are keeping them up at night.

Mick Fallon from Howells Solicitors has said that ‘the secret to minimising stress when moving home is to make the process as simple and straightforward as possible.”

The top reasons given for loss of sleep and moving stresses are damaged furniture, scratched walls and not being able to fit their furniture through doorways. Here are a few things that we do to reduce stress:

Keep a Box of Essentials

There’s nothing worse than getting everything moved in and realising you’ve got to dive through 20 boxes to find the kettle or your toothbrush! Think about the things you’ll DEFINITELY need once you’re in and keep them all to one side. Being able to enjoy a cuppa after a long and stressful day is worth it’s weight in gold.

Get Help

Husband and I have done so many moves and so many combinations of how we’ve moved, from packing everything ourselves and driving the van, to hiring a company to do all the driving for us, and there’s absolutely NO doubt that delegating as much as you can makes the process less stressful. If you’re lucky enough to have family and friends nearby who can help, try to draught as many as them in as possible to help, and if you can afford to hire a moving company to do it all for you, DO IT!

Pack Snacks!

Moving house is tiring work and by the end of the day, you’ll probably be starving, but not really in a position to start cooking. Pack a bag of snacks containing things like bottles of water, Pot Noodles, packs of dried fruit and other non-perishable stuff that doesn’t need to be refrigerated or require cooking. If you were feeling particularly hungry, you could also slip a couple of takeaway menus in the bag so that you can just order something for yourselves!

Declutter in Advance

Clearing your home of any old, unwanted or unnecessary items before your move can save you time and stress, but it can also save you money! By donating, recycling or throwing away things you don’t need, you’re cutting down on the amount of stuff you need to move. The less stuff you have, the fewer hours you need your removals team for.

Planning a Day Trip for Every Generation

The summer holidays are almost close enough to touch, and we’re already thinking about things that we can do to fill up the six weeks holidays. There will be things that we do which are just for the four of us (and sometimes including Maureen!) But we also want to take the opportunity to use our summertime freedom to spend quality time with the whole extended family. With this in mind, we’ve been thinking about what we need to consider to make our day trips fun for every generation of the family and we thought we’d share some tips with you today.

Accessibility

Whether you’re pushing a buggy, a wheelchair or using a walking stick or crutches to get around, access is something that should be at the front of your mind. Choosing places to visit which are very hilly or have a lot of stairs is going to be a nightmare for anyone with less than perfect mobility check websites ahead of time to see if any provision has been made for disabled tourists or those with small children. Take a look at this post if you’re interested in accessible days out in Yorkshire. 

Refreshments

There is no such thing as a great British day trip if you can’t stop somewhere for a decent cuppa! This is especially true if you’re day tripping with older members of your family but everyone needs to eat, so you might want to check out whats on offer before you plan your trip, obviously a picnic is a good option for the whole family and you can take food to suit everyone, minimising the risk of someone going uncatered for.

Toilets

One of the most important things to think about on any family trip is whether there will be public toilets available. Don’t forget, if you’re planning a trip which includes several generations or family members with additional needs you will need to also consider if there are wheelchair accessible amenities as well as changing tables which can be used by both mum or dad.

Parking

If you’re going by car then parking is going to be something you need to think about, too. Is the parking close to where you’re going? Is there disabled parking? Is there family parking? Is there a park and ride? Do you need to pay for parking and does the machine take coins, notes or cards? Many places offer free parking to blue Badge holders, but there are some which still charge even for disable parking, so it’s all stuff that you’ll want to be prepared for in advance.

Entertainment

Often, the older members of the family make sacrifices when it comes to day tripping – if you’re going somewhere kid-centric, Nans and Grandads end up being coat-holders and buggy watchers while the youngsters have all the fun. Try to think about whether there’s entertainment for ALL ages so that the family coat rack doesn’t end up bored out of their mind!

Summer Holiday Money Saving Hacks

summer holiday money saving hacksWe’re now in July, which means the summer holidays are just a few weeks away and we’ll have six whole weeks of entertaining the kids to keep up with. It can be an expensive time of year, especially if you have to factor in childcare while you work, so I’ve put together a little list of money-saving summer holiday hacks for you to use, so you don’t bankrupt yourself by September!

Meal Plan

If your kids are anything like mine, your main role in the summer holiday is to keep them supplied with a steady stream of snacks, the cost of which really mounts up over the course of a month and a half. What we tend to do is meal-plan for dinners so that everything is sorted for the evening meal, and then let them graze throughout the day. Recipe boxes like Hello Fresh are a good way to keep organised and also get them trying healthy and exciting new dishes like their Chicken Laksa.

Vouchers

I know for a fact that I’m not alone in having a purse full of loyalty cards that I use each time I shop and some of the points really add up. Some cards will give you a monetary amount off of your shopping, which can be a massive help if you save them until the holidays, while others can be exchanged for days-out vouchers, saving you an absolute fortune in the long-run. Go through all of your loyalty cards and see what you’ve accrued.

Local Libraries

Your local library can be an absolute fountain of resources in the summer holidays, many of which are free or cheap. As well as being able to borrow books, DVDs and CDs, lots of libraries have reading challenges and crafting events which cost little, if anything at all. We usually allocate one day every week or fortnight to visit the library to see what’s going on.

Kids Eat Free

If you’re partial to a nice lunch as a family but don’t want to spend a fortune, loads of restaurants offer a Kids Eat Free menu during the holidays. Some of them are just walk-in deals but some of them require you to print a voucher, so do make sure you check before you go, or you might get hit with a much bigger bill than you expected!

Scour Facebook

Facebook might not be your cup of tea, but it can be a wealth of information at this time of year. Join a local parents group and you’re sure to see dozens of weekly posts regarding events that are happening near you, ideas for daily activities, reviews of the best parks and picnic spots and even selling posts for pre-loved toys that your kids might love.

Get £10 off your first delivery with HelloFresh, here: https://www.hellofresh.co.uk/plans/?c=OS10OFF

3 Ways To Ensure You Have Fun With Your Family This Summer

When it comes to summer time, a lot of parents often start to feel as though there is a lot of pressure on them to engage in as many activities as possible and have as much fun as possible. While it is certainly true that you probably want to be fairly active in the warmer months, and your children will want to too, that pressure is misguided. You should not feel that you have to fill every waking moment with something new and exciting, though of course doing so as much as possible is no bad idea. In this article, we are going to look at some of the things that you might want to do to make sure that you can have some fun with your family this summer. As long as you consider these, you should find that is much simpler to make a reality.

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Get The Finances Sorted

The financial side of things is hugely important, and you need to make sure that you are going to sort this out first if you hope to have plenty of fun over the holidays. For those activities which require a fair amount of money, you should budget for them as early as you can, so that you know you are going to be able to do it without causing yourself any trouble. But you should also make sure that you are filling your time with as many no-spend activities as you possibly can, of which there are plenty. This LittleLoans article will show you some of the better things that you can hope to do without spending any money, and these are going to be a great place to start if that is what you are looking for.

Plan Together

It’s important when you are planning your summer out that you take on board the opinions of everyone who is going to be involved, otherwise you might not find that you are going to all have as much fun as you would hope. At the very least, you need to know that everyone is happy taking part in something, and if not then you might need to change your plans somewhat. By planning together in this way, you ensure that you maximize the fun for all, and that is important if you hope for your family to be truly happy during the summer months and beyond.

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Keep Your Spirits Up

We all know how easy it can be for family activities to descend into arguments. Because of how often that can happen, it is essential to make sure that you are doing whatever you can to keep your spirits up – and the spirits of all the other people in your family. If you can do that, then it will make for a much better time between you all, and that will mean that you are going to be able to enjoy your summer much more together. You might even feel that you get a little closer than you have before, which can be especially enjoyable to know.

How To Spray Tan At Home

Spray tan products and kits have been popping up all over the market. These beauty products have made it possible to get a sunkissed glow at home. If you can’t afford weekly tanning sessions or if you don’t feel comfortable stripping down in public, then the next best solution is to buy spray tanner. If you apply it properly, then you’ll leave your home with a beautiful glow that complements your summer wardrobe. Here are some must-have tips for using spray tanner.

1. Designate a Spray Tanning Room

You should choose an area in your home that you’ll want to hold your spray tan sessions. This should be a space that doesn’t have all-white walls and flooring. A DIY spray tan can quickly become a mess if you’re not well-prepared.

Keep dark towels around in case of accidents, mistakes, or spills. You should also keep in mind that your spray tan can stain the ceiling, floors, tiles, walls, and other areas of your room. You’ll want to reserve this room for spray tanning sessions, rather than just choosing a different room each time. This reduces accidents and makes you more prepared for this messy process.

2. Exfoliate & Prepare Your Skin

The next thing you should do is exfoliate and prepare your skin. Even some of the best spray tans can appear splotchy if you don’t scrub your skin beforehand. The key is to find an exfoliator or scrub that doesn’t contain oils. The oils in most of these products can prevent your tan from sticking.

Remove deodorants and fragrance before applying your self-tanner. This could react with your tan and cause you to turn green rather than bronzed. It’s best to shower beforehand, in which you’ll also exfoliate and prepare your skin. You’ll want to pay extra attention to dry areas, such as your elbows, heels, and knees.

If you have long hair, then you’ll want to pull it back into a ponytail. Then wear a shower cap to keep your hair in place during your spray tan session. You should also apply moisturizer to your eyebrows to prevent them from turning orange. When applying the spray tanner to the driest areas of your body, you’ll want to apply a thin layer or the remaining product into your elbows, feet, hands, and heels.

3. Practice a Spray Tanning Session

If you’re new to spray tanning or self-tanning in general, it’s best to start with a practice session. You can practice as often as you want so you can feel comfortable with the self-tanning experience. You’ll want to use an easy, no-commitment self-tanner for your first time. The best kind of product to practice with is a one-day or wash-off spray tanner.

This allows you to get a better idea of what self-tanner looks like on your skin and you can perfect your self-tanning technique. If you don’t want to get too dark, then you’ll want to use a gradual spray-on tanner. Or, you can use any old spray tanner and wash it off before the color develops. It appears lighter than usual and prevents mistakes from happening.

4. Use the Right Tools

While most spray tans come in a single bottle, there are others that come as part of a kit. They include all of the tools you need to get the perfect tan. Some spray-on tanners include a wide variety of products such as exfoliator, a tanning mitt, moisturizer, and additional spray-on tanners for the face, body, and hard-to-reach areas. Some even come with towelettes to quickly correct or remove mistakes before your tan sets in.

5. Apply the Tanner Evenly

Even though you’re applying spray tanner to your body, you still need to wear gloves or a mitt to avoid getting the product on your hands. Your body should be completely dry before use spray-on tanner so you can prevent streaks from happening. Hold the spray tanner eight inches away from your body while spraying. You can also enlist the help of a close friend or family member to spray the tanner onto hard-to-reach areas, such as your back.

6. Self-Tan Your Face & Hands Last

Your goal should be to apply the spray tan lightly on your face. Don’t apply too much product on your face since the color appears darker on there than other areas of your body. You also don’t want to spray it directly to your face. Instead, spray the self-tanner to different areas of your face and body or where the sun naturally hits your skin.

Your face and hands should be the last resort. Just make sure to apply the tanner evenly to both of these parts. You don’t want to be generous when it comes to these areas. Avoid applying excess product on your arms, face, and hands. Another reason not to spray directly to these areas is because it always looks streaky and fake.

7. Don’t Fear If You Make a Mistake

Mistakes are common — especially when you’re spray tanning for the first time. If you notice orange spots, streaks, or dry patches, don’t give up hope yet. There are several ways to correct these mistakes.

One way is to apply body oil and leave it on for 10 minutes, then scrub it off with a hot washcloth. Hair removal cream is another effective method, but it’s not ideal for sensitive skin types.

Apply the hair removal cream to the area with a Q-Tip and leave it on as recommended. Or, if you find that your spray tanning kit comes with tan remover, then apply it and leave it on for a minute before removing it with a hot washcloth.

If you don’t have any of these products lying around your house, then your next bet is to look in your refrigerator. Combine ice water with lemon juice and soak a washcloth in it. Then warm the washcloth in the microwave for less than 60 seconds, allow it to cool, and gently rub it over those areas where you have too much tanner.

These tips should prevent you from making self-tanning mistakes with a spray tan. Over time, you’ll become a professional and your friends will be asking for your help.

A Mum’s Guide To Staying Safe On The Roads

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Dear mums,

You don’t need us to tell you how important safety is when it comes to your children. Especially when you’re out on the roads where the risk of an accident could be high, you do need to take care. With this in mind, here is our safety guide. Read it, heed it, and take the appropriate steps to keep your children safe!

 

1. Replace your car (if you need to)

Replacing your car might not be your preferred option, especially considering the stress and expense involved when buying something new, but if your car is more than ten years old, or is showing signs of wear and tear, then for your children’s safety, you might want to consider an upgrade. Newer cars come equipped with modern safety features such as rear-facing cameras (useful for when you need to check on your kids in the back), emergency braking systems, and crumple zones that can minimise the damage caused to you and your little ones in the event of an accident. You don’t have to buy the newest car on the market of course (unless you can afford it), as you can still buy something reasonably up to date even though it’s second hand. Be sure to buy from a reputable used car dealer akin to Motor Mill, however, as you need the peace of mind that you are buying a car that is fit to drive and not likely to break down soon after leaving the dealership.

2. Keep your car maintained

To alleviate the risk of any accidents on the road, you do need to look after your car. And while there are some maintenance jobs you can do yourself; you should still take your car to the garage every so often to make sure everything is working as it should. We appreciate there might be an expense, but when it comes to the safety of your children, they should be the priority over any cost that might be incurred at the garage.

3. Be mindful of distractions

Your biggest distractions are probably your children. When they kick up a fuss in the back seat with temper tantrums and those blessed words “I’m bored,” you could easily take your eyes off the road, and that could lead to an accident. If they do start to create a fuss, you should pull over when it is safe to do so to sort out any problems. However, you might also want to read this article on keeping your children entertained, as there are plenty of ideas within to focus your children’s attention in the car. Your other biggest distraction will be your phone. When a text comes in or if you receive a phone call, you might be tempted to take one hand off the wheel to grab your mobile. DON’T!! Install a hands-free system in your car if you need to take calls, but otherwise, turn off your phone when you’re driving so you will be less prone to distractions.

4.  Don’t drive when you’re tired

You don’t need us to tell you how exhausting it is being a mum. With much to do in the day and chances of reduced sleep if your kids keep you awake at night, you might find yourself running on empty! It’s something many of us get used to, but when it comes to driving, you need to be mindful. While you might not fall asleep at the wheel, you might still make some mistakes if your concentration drops because of your tired state. Therefore, resist the urge to get in the car if you don’t have the energy. When it comes to the school run, walk the kids to school or get a taxi, and consider the same for any other journey you need to make. Then, to give yourself a fighting chance of getting some decent shut-eye, follow this sleep guide and commit to other research online for tips to help you.

And so…

Make safety your #1 priority. Follow our suggestions in this article, and then look for other ideas online to keep you and your little ones safe when you’re out in the car. And if you have any other tips for our readers, do the right thing, and remind us of them in the comments section below.

Take care, and thanks for reading!