Update

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I haven’t blogged in such a long time it took me ages to remember my log in details! I’ve still been living as frugally as possibly but allowing myself some of life’s little luxuries when there is a bargain to be had!

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As Christmas draws ever closer, I have finally made a start on the wrapping. I bought all my paper and some of my special cards in the M&S sale just before Christmas last year. I am also in love with anything White Company so bought some white and silver baubles in the sale at the same time in an effort to create a WC looking tree but hubby says it looks “Corporate” which is somewhat annoying. What does he know anyway!

I use recycled ribbon on parcels for close family i.e. the ones I will be with when they open their pressies so that I can be screwed up paper collector and grab back the various sizes and colours of ribbon to use all over again next year.

Flowers and shoes are two of my favourite things and in winter there are no particular flowers that fit a seasonal brief so I was happy to pick up these pink roses for 75p in my local Co-op and I had been after the perfect pair of black court shoes with a slightly pointed toe and not to higher heel for a while now and was happy to score these brand new Hobbs beauties for £15 on ebay last week.

I also managed to score some free stuff from a close friends daughter who has a one year old baby girl and sorted out a bag of clothes for my daughters baby and lovely baby walker, all immaculate condition and will come in really useful if only to keep at mine for when I am on babysitting duty!

I’m off out for the day tomorrow and although I dread the idea of spending money on a day out in London, sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and have an enjoyable day with a spot of yummy lunch. It will also be a good time to make use of my Starbucks gift card on a delicious seasonal red cup – I can’t wait!

[Free Stuff] How About A New Boiler?

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Sound too good  to be true, read on as you may just qualify!

It’s not great being in the financial position where you actually qualify for something free and although I scrimp and scrape so that the kids don’t go without and that we can sometimes have an annual holiday in the sun and afford other  luxuries,  the fact of the matter is, we did qualify for a new boiler under a government backed scheme.

I’m sure you, the same as us, have seen the Help-Link television advert and after a very costly repair to our  blown up boiler on New Years Day  2012, we knew that we were running  the gauntlet  with our engineer telling us upon repair that he  had no idea how long it would last so the advert for “affordable warmth” led us to investigate further,  as the boiler was making the most terrible noise which was actually scaring the life out of me every time  a tap turned on!

As one of the benefits we are in receipt of appeared to allow  us to qualify, we made an enquiry which in turn led to a visit from someone from  the company who assessed the house.  The chap was here for hours, measuring up,  checking all the radiators, then going through our paperwork as you have to supply evidence for the benefit you claim etc and a few weeks later we got a call to say we had been approved and our new boiler would be fitted within the next couple of weeks.

It hasn’t been in long enough for me to report any changes in our gas usage although I have been assured that how the new boiler works will save money in the long run.

How can anybody just give out new boilers worth £2,500 you may ask, well naturally I picked the brains of the workmen involved and it turns out the gas and electricity companies were told by the government that they would have to pay millions in penalties or put money into a scheme  such as Help-Link which is actually cheaper for them, so it is classed as a government backed  scheme.

If you don’t qualify for a grant you can spread the cost of a new boiler by paying monthly, have a look on the website to find out all the details here.

My brother didn’t qualify but managed to replace their boiler by applying for a council grant and my sister in laws sister (that’s a mouth full) obtained a council grant to replace her  windows.  There will be certain conditions with a council  grant, maybe age of property and it may cover only essential repairs and will have to be repaid if you sell the house within a certain term, but if you need urgent works that you can’t afford, give your local council a ring to find out if they can help.

 

A Not So Frugal Half Term

Its official, I hate half term and not for the reasons you may think. Oh no I have never been one of “those” mums who can’t wait to get the kids back to school, mine never drive me round  the twist really and I enjoy their company, but having the kids off school does come at a price when you are trying to be frugal.

Sure you can search the internet to find free stuff for kids and I have done free entry museums, kids go for £1 train fares, picnics in the park but nothing is ever really free when you think about the cost of travelling to your chosen destination and buying something to eat whilst your out.  As your children become older, like mine,  a sandwich in the car doesn’t exactly cut the mustard, they are more interested in Nando’s or Wagamamas before or after the cinema visit if I’m honest and considering we really don’t do much all year except our annual holiday, I can’t not offer a couple of days out and therefore find myself having spent £60 this week. Ouch.

Yes it feels painful to write it down and I was actually really shocked by the fact I put £100 in my purse and now find myself with only £40 left to go back in the bank/holiday/contingency funds. The worst part about it is remembering where it all went, I know how much a few things cost, like the £10 that went on petrol and £35 on food out for 2 days, as for the other £15? A coffee in Nero’s for £2.50 that still leaves £12.50 unaccounted for, even after emptying my purse and handbag for receipts of any description!

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The only saving grace of the two days out was popping in to a Department store whilst the kids were in the cinema and getting a sample of a Mac face and body foundation I have heard great things about but that I would never buy at full price (who knew Mac decant product for you into a little sample pot) and a perfume sample of Victor and Rolf Flower Bomb perfume which I love. I can never walk past a beauty counter without trying to snag a freebie, it’s all about “luxe for less” after all!

Roll on summer and picnics at the beach, although we have Easter to contend with first! 

How are you finding half term? Spent more than you accounted for?

[Money] Frugal Things That Have Made Me Happy This Week

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Using up leftovers from the Lamb  joint to make curry. Yummy.

Getting a Blow Dry for £5 from a junior overseen by a senior stylist at my regular salon.

Meeting friends for lunch.  I thought I was just going to her house but received a  text saying she would meet me at a local pub for an all day breakfast for £4.95 which includes tea or coffee and finished off by using the word “bargain”.  I wasn’t happy initially as I had just paid £5 for my hair and £4 for my bus fare that day but reluctantly went to the cashpoint and withdrew another £10, so mixed emotions really although it  made a nice change and was a very good breakfast.

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Free perfume samples.  These always come in handy. I pop them in my bag, ideal for freshening up if you are out and don’t want to carry a bottle of scent, plus it’s a great way to try fragrances you may not have had before.

A friend arriving with tulips.  I love tulips and is my first bunch this year.

Oh and you know the holiday I told you about in my last post, well it turns out hubby used some of our Avios points and got £72 off our BA return journey which only cost us £63 in total to get home in addition to our £32.99 each to fly out! Funny how he forgot to tell me about this and I know we have to wait until the end of August for our getaway but with this awful weather, all I can think about is sunshine, beaches and laying round the pool!

Have a safe weekend and I hope you haven’t been too badly affected by our adverse weather  conditions.  I really wish me and the kids were going somewhere warm for half term but sadly not!

Midweek Moneysaver

Fabulous Winter Travel Offers for you!

TRAVEL INSURANCE –  I normally always use a comparison site for my travel insurance but Debenhams have some great deals on at the moment with  single trip policies from just £4.99 plus free gift cards on various policies including travel, life and wedding insurance. Terms and conditions apply but you can find out more here. For example, I can get an annual family of three multi-trip policy for just £34 and get a free £10 gift card, so it is worth getting a quote and kids go free!

FAMILY AND FRIENDS RAIL CARD – If your looking to save money on rail fares over the next 12 months, the Family and Friends rail card has £10 off until 24th February making it just £20.  You have to have at least one child with you when you travel but you can save a 1/3rd on fares. Get further details here.

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FREE STUFF – I’ve been pretty lucky this week, first up a friend gave me two little Molton Brown samples that she got from the Department store she works in. They went straight into the holiday drawer as they are the perfect size for travelling abroad with hand luggage only (which means restrictions of sizes and amounts of liquids you can take) or weekend and overnight stays.

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My second freebie was a £10 beauty gift voucher which came in the goodie bag I got from a new hair salon launch party. I just need to decide whether to put it towards a pedicure or a facial, decisions, decisions! I also got some Goldwell shampoo and conditioner samples and a small pot of hair gel, not that anyone uses it in this house, so along with a couple of glasses of bubbly and a cupcake, it was worth going!

What are your best deals of the week?

 

[FREE STUFF] Coffee

my John Lewis

For those of you like me, who really can’t give up your morning latte and love a trip to the coffee shop at other times of the week, maybe when out shopping on a Saturday or meeting a girlfriend for lunch, one of the things I always do is to take advantage of the coffee chain loyalty cards.  Whether it be from the local Pumpkin train station cafe as I grab a drink before a train journey or mid shopping trip break in Costa, I really can’t see the point of spending out without getting something back, getting my loyalty card stamped and looking forward to my freebie coffee when my card is full!

John Lewis launched a loyalty card scheme back in October which allows them to build a profile on your shopping habits in exchange for free coffee and cake, entry into prize draws, special offers and previews. Sign up instore or online here.

Waitrose also run a loyalty card system that allows you to have free tea or coffee every day. You can choose from Americano, Cappuccino, Latte, Tea, Mocha and Espresso. Find out more here.

It may not be my favourite coffee drinking destination nor have the best tasting coffee in town but if you do occasionally treat your kids to a McDonalds, peel the stickers off the cups and look forward to your freebie.

Don’t forget about local coffee shops either, we have two independents in our local town who also offer a loyalty card scheme so always ask!

Get a tall Latte for just £1.50 before 11am every Monday in January at Starbucks.

Do you use your coffee shop loyalty cards on a regular basis?