10 articles Tag budget

5 Tips to Save on Electric Bills This Summer

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Summer is on our doorstep, but we are likely to spend it indoors this year. Due to the current lockdown, we might not be able to make the most out of local parks and beaches for a while. If you are confined at home, there are tips you can count on to see your money go further, without having to change up your lifestyle too much. Best of all, the tips below can help you enjoy your time indoors a little more!

Leverage natural light

As summer approaches, we can start to enjoy longer days, more hours of sunlight, and later sunsets. With all this natural light, it would be a pity to switch lights on during the day. And, ultimately, this might cost you quite a lot more than just letting the sunlight come through the windows.

However, for the best results, you might need to reevaluate your window coverings and curtains. Heavy drapes might prevent your windows from working at their best. Instead, for the summer, opt to switch to a lighter option. This alternative allows the light and fresh air to change the atmosphere of your rooms.

Switch to a better lighting system

Even if you are trying to limit the usage of lights, we rely on them for most of the day. However, some tricks can help you reduce your energy bills. Start by switching to a more sustainable lighting scheme and low consumption light bulbs. 

Moreover, if you often end up working late, invest in task lighting, which allows you to switch off the primary source of light and stay focused with just a small lightbulb. Additionally, it might be worth considering swapping to LED lights which are much more efficient than your standard bulb.

Use air conditioning mindfully.

As summer approaches, temperatures also start to rise. If your outdoor space is limited and your windows don’t seem to allow enough fresh air in, you are probably thinking to invest in a proper air conditioning system. While this is an excellent idea, you should Compare Energy Prices and implement other forms of air-cooling appliances, such as fans. 

Live more sustainably

Deciding to live more sustainably this summer has excellent benefits, among which the opportunity to save a little more on electricity. Some tips to reduce your footprint include:

  • Taking shorter showers
  • Turn off unnecessary lights
  • Unplug electronics that are not in use
  • Let your dishes air-dry
  • Use lower temperatures settings on your appliances
  • Buy fresh food that won’t need much refrigeration or cooking

Make the most out of your garden

Staying indoors for such a long period might have forced you to find new ways of entertaining yourself and your little ones. However, having the TV on all day long or charging your phone multiple times can end up being costly. Instead, if you have a garden or small terrace, opt to make the most out of it. Dinners al fresco and sunbathing afternoons can be an excellent way to turn off the lights in your home for a few times and forget about the TV!

 

Back to School Budgeting – Save Money This Summer

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It’s been a strange year for many families. The kids have been at home, the grown-ups too, and it just seems odd thinking about going back to a normal routine of school and work. With the summer coming up and schools rushing to reopen, it’s come to that time of year again to stock up on back to school supplies. 

The average parent spends £230 on school uniforms alone every year, not to mention PE kits, stationery, books, and lunches. With all parents in the same boat, there must be ways to cut these costs down. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to save money on school supplies this year.

Second-hand Uniforms

Many parents use social media groups to swap uniforms. Facebook is a good place to do this, or you can advertise in school. It’s better for little kids who grow so quickly before their uniform is even worn. It’s also a good idea to swap books and revision guides. There are many apps and websites for swapping second-hand items in your local area if you can’t find anyone. 

Make a Realistic Budget

It’s a good idea to write a checklist of only essential items and see what you already have at home. You can then make a realistic budget for what you actually still need to buy. Budgeting apps can help your with this as well. Explain to your kids that a new pencil case every year might not be that necessary. Think about where you can cut a few costs. For another quick and easy solution to any financial situation, check out payday loans.

Factor in Hidden Costs

Don’t forget about extra-curricular activities that you might need to budget for as well. Things like sports clubs and music lessons can set you back a bit. For lunch costs, you could set up an account and plan it with your children so they’ll know what to expect. If you’re looking for inspiration there are plenty of cheap lunch box ideas online. Get creative with leftovers and fun treats. Home-cooked food is much better for them than prepared meals anyway, besides being a lot tastier.

Shop in Sales

It’s hard to rely solely on second-hand items so when you do need to do some shopping, give your self some time to wait for the sales. Take into account your child’s growth in that waiting time, don’t forget. Supermarkets often have crazy cheap offers in the summer, and you’ll be able to find deals online as well. Here are some more tips and tricks for buying school uniforms. 

Determine a Savings Timeline

If you plan how much you’re going to spend on school supplies you can start developing a timeline and save up with plenty of time in advance. Put aside a piggy bank for school funds. School stuff costs a little more nowadays due to technology being implemented into their studies. Plan ahead a little for your children’s education to make sure they don’t go without.

Does Running The Family Car Have To Be So Expensive?

For most families, the act of running a car is an essential one. It’s also one of the highest monthly costs they have to pay out. The good news is there are some ways that you can reduce these costs and have more money in the family budget for fun and days out. Read on to find out what they are. 

Reduce your purchase fees 

Usually, the single most significant cost related to running the family vehicle is the monthly amount you need to pay towards its purchase or lease. In fact, the vast majority of families choose to pay for their cars on finance rather than buying them outright.

Of course, what that means is you must look for a used car dealer like London Motor Company that can offer the best value for money finance deals. In fact, finding a finance specialist means you end up paying less, and make the entire process of buying a car a lot simpler and easier as well. 

Reduce your insurance 

Next, if you are looking to keep the running cost of your family vehicle low, you must choose your insurance carefully. Of course, there is a delicate balance that you must strike here between keeping the price low and also being covered for every likely eventuality. Otherwise, you could end up in a situation where you do not have coverage, and this could cost you big. 

With that in mind, doing a little shopping around and using comparison websites is the best idea. Then you can be sure that you are not paying a penny over what you need to. 

Reduce your fuel 

Similarly, the cost of the fuel you put into your family car will have an effect on how much you pay out over all as well. With that in mind, there are two things you can do here. The first is to reduce the amount of fuel that you use by cutting down on unnecessary journeys and driving economically. 

Additionally, making an effort to look for the cheapest petrol stations is well worth the time it takes. The reason is that it can cut vast amounts off of your monthly bill. 

Reduce your maintenance costs 

It is also essential to keep your vehicle clean and running safely, especially when it’s the primary way you and your family get around. However, that doesn’t always mean you have to pay out for expensive professional services. 

In fact, when it comes to detailing your car, you can do a professional job yourself from home. All you need to do is invest in a few tools, then follow the advice in the video below. This being a tactic that could save you a real fortune over time. 

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The same goes for some of the more basic maintenance tasks as well. Like changing the oil, checking your tires, and even replacing things like the windscreen wipers. Although, when it comes to functions that have an impact on the safety of your vehicle, it’s always best to get professional assistance, no matter the cost. 


The Benefits of Car Leasing

The Benefits of Car LeasingWhen it comes to being a motorist, there are a lot of expenses to consider. Aside from the initial purchase price of a car, there’s the tax, insurance, MOT costs, maintenance, fuel…it all adds up. There are, however, cheaper ways of running a car, such a leasing, so we’ve teamed up with Genus Leasing to talk to you about all of the benefits of leasing a car instead of buying outright. Here are a few of them:

You’ll Get More for Your Money

When you lease a car, you usually find you’re driving a better vehicle than you would if you had bought one. This is because, with a car lease you only pay the car’s depreciation for the lease period, not the value of the car (because you don’t own it). As a result, your monthly payments are usually lower compared with other forms of finance, so you can lease a better make, trim or option.

You’ll Always Have a Newer Model

After the initial lease period ends, you will be able to exchange the car for a brand new vehicle. This means that you will be able to reap the advantages of having a new car on a regular basis, allowing you to get the maximum benefits of fuel economy, performance and safety. It also means that you will be able to avoid massive depreciation costs, as you do not own a vehicle that is likely to be rapidly losing value.

You’ll Reduce Your Monthly Outgoings

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 Tax and breakdown cover. And if you include a maintenance package, your ability to budget becomes even stronger because you’ll know what’s going out of your account all in one go.

Cheaper Maintenence

Leasing provides much lower maintenance costs than other forms of buying. This is because the person leasing the car does not retain ownership, so general maintenance costs are covered by the manufacturer’s warranty period. If the car being leased requires servicing or repair, the costs will be covered; this usually includes tyre and exhaust replacement.

No MOTs to Remember

Generally speaking, lease car are less than a year or two old, and cars don’t need to be MOT’d until they’re three years old. This means that it’s unlikely that you’ll ever have to worry about MOTs with a lease car because you’ll have upgraded to a newer model before it’s even due.

Bonus Tip

If you really don’t use a car that much but still need one to get around occasionally, why not think about using All Transportation Network to book reservations for chauffeured transportation? You’ll be travelling in serious style and saving yourself a whole lot of hassle.

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

How to Create a Budget

You want to create a budget, but where do you start? If you’re not financially savvy, creating a budget can be intimidating. Whether you want to save for a mortgage or you have tax debt you need to take care, reach your goals by following these simple tips.

Determine Your Net Income

It’s easy to overestimate your budget if you don’t make an accurate assessment of your income. Instead of incorporating your entire salary into your budget, calculate your net income by subtracting Social Security, taxes, 401(k) and flexible spending account allocations into your budget. The remaining pay is your net income; this is what you use to pay other expenses. If it’s easier, show your deductions in your budget worksheet to keep track of where your total salary goes.

Record Your Spending

Record your expenses or use an app that shows how much you spend. Use online banking that shows each expense in real time, or download an app like Wally to categorize where you spend money the most. Apps like Wally keep track of how much you spend on bills, restaurants, retail, and entertainment. Once you see how much you spend in a month, you can adjust your budget accordingly.

Begin your budget worksheet by listing all your fixed expenses. These include regular monthly bills like car payments, utilities, student loans, rent, backup withholding payments, or mortgage payments. These are expenses you can’t adjust, but you’ll get an accurate assessment of how much money will get taken out of your paycheck each month.

Set Goals

What are you saving money for? Keep a list of short term and long term goals to stay inspired. Short term goals should take no more than a year to achieve, like a family vacation or paying off credit card debt. Long term goals may take years to achieve, like funding your child’s education or earning your doctorate degree. Your goals may change over the years, but identifying what’s important to you will help you stay motivated.

Create a Plan

Once you’ve listed your goals, it’s time to execute a plan. With your net income and fixed expenses in mind, you’ll have a better estimate of how much you can spend each month.

Break down your expenses based on your typical spending habits, and separate your needs from your wants. You can’t achieve your goals without making a few sacrifices, so it may be time to nix your Netflix account. Gas and groceries are necessary expenses, but you can reduce your spending by carpooling or choosing less expensive grocery options. Identifying your priorities will help you decide what you really want to do with your extra spending money.

You can also pick up a second job. If you want to achieve your goals quicker or you’re afraid you don’t have the funds to cover your basic needs, a second job can help fill in the gaps. Take up a job as a server or bartender and stash the tips in a jar at home. You can also work on your own time as an Uber of Lyft driver. There are dozens of apps available that allow you to babysit, tutor, and take care of people’s pets. If you have a special skill, use it to your advantage to make some fast cash.

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Change Poor Spending Habits

After you categorize your necessary expenses, you might have some money left over. This is the money you can put away in your savings. You can deposit the full amount, or take out a small chunk to treat yourself.

If you want to splurge, take out a certain amount in cash and use only that amount when you want to take a night out or go to a movie. It’s easy to overlook how much money goes into small expenses like happy hour when you use a debit or credit card. Deposit the majority of the remaining amount into your savings so you can save.

Follow these steps, and you’ll have a budget you can stick to and achieve your goals.

Replacing Old Faithful (Or: “When a Laptop Goes to Tech Heaven”)

A few years go, Husband decided that I needed a new laptop if I was going to be making a serious go of this blogging and copywriting stuff, so when my birthday came around he took me to a shop and let me choose a shiny, brand-new one in order to make my life easier. My previous model was grinding to a halt with even the most simple of tasks and it just wasn’t conducive to any sort of productivity.

Since then, maybe 4 and a half years ago now, the laptop and I have gone through blogging, social media work, blogging conferences, copywriting commissions, the birth of a baby, several house moves and everything else that life has thrown our way. It’s not as speedy as it once was, but bashing away on its keys is like slipping into a pair of well-worn leather gloves; my fingers just fit and everything is exactly where it should be.

A couple of days ago, my laptop got knocked onto the floor, breaking the charger and the inside of the port it goes into and, if we’re being realistic, it’s probably more economically viable to replace the whole laptop than try to buy new chargers and replace the internal port. I’m sad to see Old Faithful go to laptop heaven, but excited to be scoping out the best budget laptops in the UK.

At the moment, I’m using Sausage’s Chromebook, which actually works really well (probably because she basically NEVER uses it!) and I really like the fact that it’s essentially an Android device like my phone, which means I can use the same apps for my emails and things like photos and notes sync across the two devices really well. I’ll probably keep using this one for a while, until I’ve saved for a replacement, but a newer Chromebook is definitely high on my list of replacements.

Do you have a laptop which feels like a trusty old friend? Have you recently invested in something new and have a great suggestion of what I should be buying? Or are you in the same predicament as me with no idea what to buy? Do leave me a comment below if you have any pearls of wisdom which might help me out!

 

Planning A Beautiful Wedding On A Budget: It Is Possible!

Money, or a lack of money, is one of the biggest hurdles you face when planning a wedding. The latest statistics suggest that the average UK wedding now costs more than £21,000. Now, most of us don’t have that kind of cash lying around. The good news is that you don’t have to cut corners or miss out if you want the day of your dreams. With these helpful hacks, you’ll get the day you deserve without breaking the bank.

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Budgeting tips for engaged couples

When you get engaged, you’re probably incredibly excited about the entire wedding planning process. Before you know it, you’ve written a guest list, decide what colour theme you want, and chosen your first dance song. It’s easy to get carried away in the romance of the situation, but try and be methodical. It’s best to set a budget before you start booking anything.

When you’re budgeting, work out how much you have available to spend on the wedding in total. Put together any savings you want to allocate, plus other sources, such as help from your parents. Once you’ve got a total in mind, you can work out how much you want to spend on what. Do some research, so you’ve got a rough idea of the kinds of costs you can expect. When you’re ready, start ticking off your biggest costs, for example, the venue and catering.

As you book, pay deposits, or clear bills in full, update your planner or spreadsheet. Keep a record of invoices, so you know where you are financially, and how much more you’ve got to pay.

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Making savings

There are so many ways you can make savings when you’re planning a wedding. On the surface, anything connected to a wedding day appears to be more expensive than normal. But if you shop around, you’re bound to find better deals. Take bridesmaid dresses, for example. If you go to a bridal boutique, you’re likely to pay in excess of £100 per dress. If you shop for formal dresses on the high street, you can pick up beautiful styles for a fraction of the price. You can also compare prices on suit hire, transport, and rings. You’ll often find that the prices of very similar rings vary hugely according to the jeweller you visit. If you’re looking for Russian wedding rings, for example, visit a few different stores, try some styles, and search online.  You can then compare styles based on the thickness of the band and the carat value.

You can also make huge savings by embracing DIY. Get crafty, and you won’t need to worry about forking out for favours, place cards or table plans. You can also make the most of your family’s talents to help out with tasks like baking cakes, arranging flowers and doing hair and makeup.

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Are you hoping to plan a beautiful wedding without going bankrupt? Weddings aren’t cheap, but there are ways of making them more affordable. Set a budget, and keep a tight handle on spending. Look at ways you could save, such as making your own favours and doing your own decorations. It also pays to shop around and compare prices and styles before you buy. Good luck!

Interplay Fairy Princess Craft Party Review

A few months ago, Sausage went to the birthday party of her best friend (I swear, that kid has a better social life than I do, I’ve literally lost count of all the parties she’s been to this year!), which was hosted by a company which provides dress up clothes and accessories (princesses and pirates in this case) and then provides crafts for the kids to get involved with, like painting plaster-of-Paris ornaments and colouring in. All of the kids had a marvellous time, so when Interplay got in touch a while ago and asked if we’d like to review one of their party in a box kits, I had a feeling it would go down well.

The kit we were sent is the Interplay Fairy Princess Craft Party kit, which gives you everything you need for six little ones to be able to make and decorate a crown, a fairy wand, and a pair of wings. The activities are expected to keep the kids entertained for up to an hour and a half and are an absolutely brilliant way to plan a party on a budget.

Fairy Princess Craft Party

We’ve not got around to hosting our party yet, between the masses of birthday parties, all of our recent hospital appointments and half term now being upon us, but we’re really excited about putting it all together. The kit itself costs between £20 and £24, so even if you wanted a party for 12 kids, you could effectively host a party at home for under £50, if you were to buy snacks cheaply (and let’s face it, what kids want at a party is nuggets, cake and juice!). As Husband and I are ALL too aware, birthday parties for little ones can be prohibitively expensive and coming up with a new thing to do every year can be a nightmare, so Interplay have provided a really cost effective way to host, whilst providing kids with a decent amount of entertainment.

The other good thing is that the kids can take the crown, wings and wand away with them at the end of the party, which takes care of the party bag gifts, too. The set is aimed at 5-8 year olds, and Interplay also make sets for kids who are Mad About Ponies, as well as Treasure Box making and Pirate parties, which means you could have mixed parties for boys and girls if the dudes didn’t want to make wands and wings.

I can’t express enough how much I love these kits – Sausage is so excited about planning her little soiree (which will no doubt involve some pink cupcakes) and I really think the kids she invites will get a lot of enjoyment out of the contents. Providing a budget option in the current financial climate means that kids who may have been unable to have an expensive party could now have a great little birthday treat for them and their friends, which doesn’t seem like a glaringly cheap option, and will allow their parents to do something nice for their kids without breaking the bank.

Interplay get serious props from the whole family for making these kits, for the ‘fun for kids’ aspect, as well as giving adults a break when it comes to cost, which really does make them an all-round winner in my book.

(post contains affiliate links)

Be Ruthless About Your Wedding Budget!

With the average wedding now costing around £22,000, controlling your wedding costs has never been so important. But how can you have a day to remember whilst on a budget? Don’t worry; it’s entirely possible with some forward planning. Let’s look at several easy ways to trim the costs.

Don’t tell organisers that you’re having a wedding

Make enquiries instead under the guise of a party or event, as some suppliers automatically bump up the costs when they hear the ‘W’ word!

Keep the guest list under control

You only need to invite close friends and immediate family; avoid inviting long-lost relatives and people you haven’t seen in years. Simply explain that you are keeping the wedding small. Some people choose to exclude children as well, although they tend to be less costly guests than adults.

Consider going abroad

It can actually be less expensive to book an overseas wedding package for a small group of people and it saves on honeymoon costs too. Look at Eastern Europe, Italy and Morocco for popular destinations that do not cost the earth.

Pick your days

Saturday is the most expensive day by far for a wedding and you will pay a premium. Try to book your wedding on a Friday or Sunday instead and you’ll pay less for the venue. Consider having the entire event at one venue too, which saves on décor, transport and hire fees. You could even have a marriage later in the day, which would avoid the need for a sit-down dinner and allow you to serve just one buffet meal.

Choose food carefully

Apply wisdom to your choice of menu. Do you really need to serve a full sit-down dinner, or could you arrange a cheaper, quirkier choice? Options include a Sunday fête-themed buffet, a vintage tea party or even an Asian-inspired meal. Do you need dessert when you have a wedding cake?

Avoid an open bar

This is a quick way to damage your wallet, particularly as many venues will charge high premiums for their bar drinks. People also tend to drink too much when the booze is free! Instead, consider offering to pay for everyone’s first drink. Remember too that sparkling wine is just as good as Champagne for toasting – and costs far less!

Funding the day

Avoid getting into costly and complicated credit card debt and consider a secured loan from a specialist such as Evolution Money so you can manage the repayments within a certain time-frame and avoid having the debt hanging over you for many years afterwards.

In collaboration with Evolution Money