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Mila & Pheebs Kids Activity Box – A review

Mila & Pheebs Kids Activity Box Review – Part 2

We were squealy excited to be sent a further Mila & Pheebs Kids Activity Box through the post. Crafting definitely plays a huge part in our lives. Making something together post dinner time has become a bit of a regular routine for us which gives us something nice to do after work/school.

MIla & Pheebs Kids Activity Box

I didn’t tell Isabelle that she was getting another box as she drives us totally insane when she knows something is coming through the post. She thinks that it’s going to appear at the door five minutes after it’s been ordered. It was a lovely surprise when it arrived, and I think I was just as excited to know what was inside as Isabelle was.

I did wonder whether this box was going to beat the previous Activity Box that we received, but we weren’t at all disappointed.

What was in the box?

  • Safari Criss Cross
  • Safari Colouring-in sheets
  • Lion Eraser
  • Safari Dotty Art
  • Safari Pencil
  • Safari Memo Pad
  • Safari Wordsearch
  • Safari Greeting Cards
  • Safari Foil Stickers
  • Parrot Collage Kit
  • Safari Scissors

Isabelle’s favourite piece in the box was the scissors. She was so excited to get her own pair of scissors. Doubly so that they had monkeys and bananas on them!

So over to Isabelle who will walk you through what she got in the box.

As you can see, she was thoroughly impressed with all of the things that she got in the box, especially the monkey scissors.

I’ve sneaked the colouring sheets and activity sheets to put away for Isabelle to do on plane when we go on holiday next month.

There isn’t a single thing in the box that Isabelle wasn’t excited about or looking forward to making.

Value for Money

There are various options for the subscription boxes as well as various payment options. As well as the monthly subscription boxes you can get one off themed boxes including Birthday, Superhero, Unicorn and Fun on the Farm just to name a few.

If my convincing isn’t enough, pop over and check out their social media:

Twitter: @MilaandPheebs 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/milaandpheebs

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/milaandpheebs

Hope you like the video.

Lisa & Isabelle x

 

Family Fever

My Happy List – New Job Talk , holidays and sunshine….

My Happy List

My Happy List – last week I didn’t post anything as it really was a week of slog at work and not much else.

However, this week has been a bit less stressful.

Sleep – I’ve slept a lot better than usual this past week which is always something to feel happy about. This was a big deal especially since Chris has an awful cough and he’s been hacking away most of the night.

New working hours – i was a bit worried about changing my hours at work as three days seems like the best work/life balance and my new job is four days a week. However, given that this is going to be a different job completely I’m up for the challenge (and I have been working full-time for the past year). I have also wangled a Friday off which fits in better for childcare.

Holiday Shopping – we’ve done a bit more holiday shopping this week and I’ve actually bought some swimwear that doesn’t make me want to throw-up!

Park Day – we went to my brothers yesterday and took the kids to the park. It was lovely just sitting in the sun whilst the kids played. Now that they’re eight, six and six you don’t have to chase them round the park and help them on and off stuff. It also meant I could have some baby cuddles from my nephew.  

Dog walking – I love walking Charlie, preferably on my own. I can walk and think, or not. He has no expectations or demands, just walking. I can see my old age in front of me where flashes of 100 stray dogs and no people spring to mind. Ha ha!

Have a great week.

Lisa x

What Katy Said

Bargain Food Haul from Approved Food

Bargain Food Haul from Approved Food

Our bargain food haul from approved food – I’m loving all the TV programmes at the moment on how to eat for less, and making savvy purchases to save money. We never used to be very savvy when it came to shopping. Gone are the days where we shopped at the same supermarket and bought whatever we wanted, sometimes not even taking note of the price. We stopped shopping like this quite a while ago, and now alternate our shopping trips dependent on what we need such as store cupboard staples, fresh fruit and veg and meat.

Approved Food

I was really pleased to be asked to try out www.approvedfood.co.uk which essentially is a bargain online shop where you can buy food that is either surplus or short dated stock.

I placed my order at around 8.30pm on Tuesday 4th July with an expected delivery time of 2 – 3 working days and it was delivered on Friday 7th July.

You can buy everything from cupboard staples such as pasta and rice to all the kids chocolate biscuit treats, toiletries and cleaning products and even a healthy and beauty section.

What we bought

  • Amoy Plum Sauce x 2 = £1.00
  • Amoy Soy Sauce Reduced Salt x 2 = £1.00
  • Bottle Green Elderflower Sparkling Presse x 4 cans = £1.49
  • Cavalino Bucks Fizz x 1 = £1.99
  • Chupa Chups Air Heads x 3 = £0.99
  • Combos Cheddar Cheese Cracker x 3 = £0.99
  • CorNiche Apple Teddy Marshmallows x 5 = £1.00
  • Don Mario Fusilli x 2 = £1.00
  • Don Mario Spaghetti x 2 = £1.00
  • Fabiola Pasta Spaghetti x 2 = £1.00
  • Flash All Purpose Cleaner x 1 = £0.99
  • Foxs Nice Creams x 2 = £1.00
  • Foxs Triple Layered Biscuit 10 pack x 1 = £0.99
  • Giovanni Di Firenze Tomato Pasta Sauce x 2 = £1.50
  • Globe World Foods Plum Tomatoes x 3 = £0.99
  • Go Ahead Yoghurt Breaks x 3 = £0.99
  • Golden Wonder Chicken and Mushroom Pot Noodles x 4 = £2.00
  • Gratify herb baked mini dippers x 2 = £1.00
  • Jacobs Jaffa Cakes x 2 = £1.98
  • Maryland Double Chocolate Chip Cookies x 4 = £1.00
  • Napolina Conchiglie Pasta x 1 = £0.95
  • Purina Delibakie Stars Turkey and Bacon x 1 = £0.99
  • Quaker Oats – Oats so Simple Morning Golden Syrup Bars x 1 box = £0.99
  • Real Handcooked Variety Pack Crisps x 2 = £0.02
  • Ryvita Crackerbread Pepper Flavour x 2 = £1.50
  • Simple Soothing Facial Toner x 2 = £1.00
  • Wubba Dog Toy x 1 = £2.99

Grand total = £32.34

Postage and Packing is worked out by box. We had one large box which cost £5.99.

Fun Fact – I quite liked the Fun Fact at the end. Mine was that I’d saved £44 by buying from Approved Food which is the equivalent of 36 litres of fuel. That’s a total bargain in my book.

The offers come in daily and since signing up, I’ve received quite a few emails with all the latest offers.

What we think

Approved Food is definitely a website worth a monthly visit to fill your cupboards. Nothing lasts very long in our house what with a pot noodle eating cookie monster of a teenager and a six year old who loves a treat or two and a midnight munchie man around. I think my favourite bargain is the kong dog toy which are usually quite expensive and was very much appreciated by Charlie!

Have you shopped at Approved Food?

Let us know what your BEST bargain was.

Lisa x

*We were given £30 credit to spend for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.
You Baby Me Mummy
Family Fever

Doodle Collection Notebook Review

Doodle Collection Notebook Review

I’m a sucker for stationary!

I love notebooks, notepads, pens…….actually everything from moustache shaped paperclips to novelty pencil sharpeners. I was just a little bit excited to be asked to review a notebook from the Doodle Collection.

Doodle Collection

My daughter has inherited the same magpie like attraction for cool stationary.

I have a particular thing for notebooks, even if I don’t have a particular use for one. I like to select a nice pen and alway write neatly in my notebooks. I hate making mistakes or crossing things out in my notebooks.

I have several notebooks on the go for different things.

Diaries, planners and calendars are also a fave of mine. I always get either a calendar or diary for Christmas so I like to set aside an evening to write out my calendar or diary with a nice pen (preferably several different colours) and a glass of wine, and make a bit of an event of it.

The company is based in India but all their full range is available to buy on Amazon.

They have a huge selection of notebooks, diaries and planners in all the colours and designs you can think of.

We’re really loving Flamingoes and Unicorns at the moment so when given a choice I went with a Majestic Misfit Notebook. I really love the wording on the front:

Doodle Collections Review Competition

Notebook Features:

  • It’s A5 in size and has a sturdy cover
  • 200 lined pages with a scribble section on every other page
  • Thick paper, nice for writing with an ink pen
  • Perforated edges on each page which is fab if you make a mistake

What we thought

I really like this notebook from the size to the thickness and quality of the paper. The size is great for popping in your bag but it’s not too small. I love the flamingo design and is easy to lay flat to write on.

I’ve already pinpointed this Notebook for when I start my new job next month to take notes. Until then it will be sitting prettily on my bookshelf.

Which Notebook would you choose from the Doodle Collection?

Lisa x

 

Family Fever

Happy Days – A New Beach and a night out

Happy Days Linky

This week has been pretty much a working kind of week with not so much in terms of having fun. However, we have managed to sneak in a couple of bits during the week.

Subscription Box – Isabelle received a Mila & Pheebs Kids Activity Subscription box. These boxes are amazing so we spent a bit of time doing an unboxing video which I will share with you once I’ve done all the prettying up. Isabelle loves You Tube kids so she’s loving doing the little videos, but we have to try and tone down her Americanised barbie voice that she keeps putting on.

Dog Walking – With the lighter evenings it’s been much easier to get in an after dinner/before bed dog walk with Charlie. I’ve had to do a bit of bribing with Isabelle, but once she is out she really enjoys it especially if she takes her scooter.

New job – With all the excitement of getting a new job, this week has been a bit of a comedown as since being offered the job I’ve heard nothing more. Every time I think about it my stomach does a little flip of excitement……

Holiday – 5 weeks and 6 days to go…..

Sleep – I’ve slept slightly better this week since the stress of last week with my interview prep. In the last week I’ve probably on average only woken about twice a night which is good for me, and I’ve managed to drop back off straight away. I need to do a bit of research on insomnia as it’s become my norm for over a year now. Any tips would be greatly appreciated.

Blogger Night Out at Revolution Torquay– I met with some fellow bloggers in Revolution, Torquay for some scrummy cocktails and yummy food. The cocktail menu was awesome. It’s great getting together for a natter about all things bloggy, as I’m sure for most or us our regular non-blogger friends have no idea what I’m talking about. I had a burger with cheesy wotsits (actual wotsit crisps) in it which was very nice.


A new beach – We thought we’d try a new beach this weekend so today we went to Anstey’s cove in Torquay. It’s not a sandy beach its pebbly but it was a total treasure. We had Charlie with us so we had a bit of a paddle, but next time I’d love to take out a Kayak and go and explore the other coves which you can only access by swimming, sailing or climbing over the rocks to get to. We’re really looking forward to going back.


That’s it from me this week. Having said that I would still consider it to have been a good week.

Lisa x

 

What Katy Said

Paulos Circus – Darts Farm

Paulos Circus heads to Darts Farm

There’s something a bit special about going to the circus. Is it the Big Top, the Clowns, all the sparkly costumes or maybe the oodles of sweets and candyfloss that kids are given a free pass to stuff their faces with.

It was exciting to be invited along to watch the show. The last time I took Isabelle to the circus we were chased across a field by a horse and turned up wet and bedraggled only for Isabelle to sleep through the entire show. She was under two at the time so all is forgiven.

We spotted the Big Top and the excitement began. We went in through the Big Top which was quite dark with disco lights all around and loaded up with popcorn, drinks and candyfloss. There was no formal seating plan so you could chose where to sit yourself. We were lucky to get seats at the front in the middle so Isabelle didn’t need to sit on either of our laps which was nice.

Paulos Circus

The Show

The show which was an hour and ten minutes long was action packed throughout with acrobatics using swings and ribbons to twirl and whirl through the sky, Mr N the funny Clown, plate spinning, trampolining and other shenanigans.

Mr N the clown was so funny. Mr N did lots of really silly stuff which the crowd, us included thought was really funny. He popped out between each act and had all the kids and adults enthralled in his funny antics.

Paulos Circus

When it was time to pick a helper from the audience he picked  – ME – to hold a balloon above my head whilst he had a balloon arrow. Using the balloon bow he shot an invisible arrow which popped the balloon.

Later on in the show he picked on us again – Chris this time, was chosen to catch popcorn in his mouth which he missed. Mr N gave him another chance and when he went to throw the popcorn he threw the whole bucket over him.

We watched ariel acrobatics which was pretty amazing and similar on a swing.

paulos_circus

At the beginning of the show there was an act where a man and a woman took it in turns to go inside material tubes and each time they came out they were wearing different clothes. Isabelle’s face was complete and utter astonishment. She thinks that it would be cool for us to get some of the material tubes so it’s quicker to get changed.

paulos_circus

The grand finale was called the Ring of Death which was an enormous wheel with two circles which two acrobats climbed inside and outside whilst it was spinning. I think I gasped the first time it whooshed round as I was sat completely in line for first squashing as it was so close. There were lots of open mouthes as it went round at speed with the two of them going around and around.

paulos_circus

Our thoughts

The time went really quick and everyone joined in clapping along and laughing. Isabelle loved all of the sparkly costumes that the ladies wore and her face said it all really. Isabelle left with a sticky smile and another memory stored away of a fun family day.

Visiting the Circus

Paulos Circus will be at Darts Farm in Topsham until Sunday 9th July when they will be moving on to Newquay.

Tickets are only £7.00 per person but if you have a look around there are lots of £2.00 off vouchers. This can be applied to all tickets purchased. For more details on where the Circus is visiting next pop over to the website www.pauloscircus.co.uk.

If you do get the chance to go we would definitely recommend it.

Lisa x

*we were gifted tickets to the show but all opinions are our own.

Happy Days List

Happy Days Linky

I’ve been looking to for the Happy Days linky to try and break my pessimistic outlook which has taken over for the past year.

I hate that I look at all the negatives, but I think it’s fair to say that the last year or so has been quite tough for various reasons.

Life’s too short and all that, but more so when I look at my once chubby faced little boy turning eighteen in April. It speeds on by, and he’s now taking driving lessons and is starting an apprenticeship in September.

For that reason I’m going to take stock of the good things.

Happy Days

 

My Happy List

New Baby – Technically this happened over a week ago but my brother and his fiancé had a baby boy. He’s so squeezable. He was early so is the tiniest baby we’ve had in the family but he’s gorgeous!

The weather – it was scorching last week. I’m not a sun worshipper but it’s nice getting up and going to work in the sunshine. We finally managed to buy a cheapish paddling pool for Isabelle and Daddy had it all set up for when she came home from school on Tuesday. After sitting on a hot bus on the way home I took my shoes off and got in with her (in my work clothes) which she thought was great since she soaked me!

The paddling Pool – this should have its own title as it’s use after school everyday this week has been great. Isabelle is loving being able to get changed and straight in to cool off.

Last day of college – After two years, Ryan has officially finished college and about to embark on the world of work. 

Holiday – it’s only six weeks and five days until we go on holiday. We cannot wait!

New Job – I spent the most part of last week swotting for a job interview. Trying to cover every possible question that they might ask. I heard that there was quite a lot of competition but……….I GOT IT!!  I’m terrified but mostly excited.

Family day out – life is tiring at the moment but we are trying to make the most of our weekends. Yesterday we went to the circus (post to follow). It was really lovely and then we went for a wander around Darts Farm which is always nice. We love their food hall.

happy_days_linky

Holiday Shopping – Did I mention that it’s only six weeks and five days until our holiday. We’re off holiday clothes shopping today. Ha ha!

What made your week great?

Lisa x

What Katy Said

A Tip Top Big Mac – Your New McDonalds

A Tip Top Big Mac – Your New McDonalds

A Tip Top Big Mac is what I made at McDonalds even if I do say so myself.

Your New McDonalds

Myself and some fellow bloggers were invited to take a look around one of Plymouths City Centre McDonalds where some pretty impressive changes have been made to improve the service that customers receive and streamline the whole McDonalds experience.

Your New McDonalds

What’s New

Self Service – If you’ve been into your local branch recently it may be one of over 50% of restaurants that have the touch screen self-service points in addition to the usual counter and drive through services.

You may have even already visited one of the restaurants that have table service on offer. Fear not as these services will be rolled out nationwide in the near future.

The self service points where you order and pay for your food are a really quick and convenient way to order food. It displays the whole menu with size options and meal deal options.

Using the screens couldn’t be simpler. All the food is displayed using pictures and gives you various options (including dips for meals that include this). The touch screens are so easy that you could let your children use the screens to pick choose and order their own food. The best thing about the screens is that the menu is visual and there are options on there that you may not even know is available.

Table Service – This has probably been a long awaited addition to the McDonalds restaurants and will make ordering so much easier for the vast majority of us.

As a parent, standing in the queue and ordering the food and then finding a table can be such a pain in the butt, and then you forget to get the straws or napkins.

These days are long gone. The self-service machine allows you to choose table service. They have plastic table number plaques which are Bluetooth enabled that you pick up which are all numbered (I’m sure they have an actual name). You tap this number in and once your order is placed the server will be able to find you via the number plaque. The server comes armed with a toolbelt loaded with napkins, straws and sauces so there’s no need for you to leave your seat.

Behind the Scenes

We got to have a nose around behind the scenes which was quite impressive.

We started off in the staff room where we were given our very own McDonalds apron, hat (plus hairnet) and name badge. I was totally sold by this point but I am quite easily pleased!

Your New McDonalds

The kitchen, whilst busy was very orderly and everybody was going about their work like a well oiled machine.

I’ve always been quite impressed by the number of staff that are working in any restaurant at any given time. There are approximately 40 staff on at any given time and more at peak times.

Your New McDonalds

We had a look at the walk-in fridges and freezers at all the fresh ingredients that are delivered almost daily and YES they do use fresh eggs!

Tablets

Some of the restaurants have a seating area where tablets are available. I always assumed that these were just for children, but as well as games available you can use the tablets to get news updates, check your emails and log-in to your social media sites.

Rest assured that the tablets have strict blocks so that unsavoury sites are not accessed by our kids.

You can also keep up to date with all news that is McDonalds including calorie content and community projects that McDonalds support.

The Best Bit

We got to make our very own Big Mac’s.

All of the burgers are made specific to McDonalds. There are clearly labelled charts above the work station to ensure that all burgers are made the same.

You can watch my video but this next bit is completely from my memory.

  1. Get your bun ready
  2. Pop it into the three sections of the special bun toaster
  3. Get your box ready
  4. Put the bun in box
  5. Shoot the Big Mac sauce gun at both parts of the bun
  6. Add lettuce
  7. A sprinkle of onion
  8. A slice of cheese on one side
  9. Two slices of gherkin on the other making sure that you separate so you get pickle in each bite
  10. Add a burger on each side
  11. Put the middle part of the bun on top of the bottom bun
  12. Shut the box
  13. BOOM the Big Mac is good to go

I totally aced my Big Mac making skills as you can see in my video.

Your New McDonalds

Cool McDonalds Facts

  • They use fresh ingredients. Contrary to what many people think where possible fresh ingredients are used and delivered to the restaurants daily.
  • No food is sat around – The burgers are freshly prepared to order
  • All waste is recycled. This was the biggest surprise for me. All food and packaging waste is separated and recycled including the oil used in the fryers
  • McDonalds aim to have a ‘Zero Waste Policy’ in all restaurants by 2020
  • To reduce the carbon footprint, delivery lorries deliver and pick-up at the same time so that no empty lorries are driving around
  • Since the introduction of the self-service touch screens more salads have been ordered. This maybe since the entire menu is visual on the screen it’s much easier to see what’s on offer
  • McDonalds work with local councils and volunteer for litter picking with the Love Where you Live campaign
  • McDonalds support local community projects and sports clubs

I bet you’re just a little bit impressed as was I. We like to take Isabelle to McDonalds for a treat and we allow her to choose her own meal whether it be a burger and fries or fish fingers and a fruit bag. It’s all about moderation!

As they say *whistles* ‘I’m Loving it!’

Lisa x

Your New McDonalds

 

 

Recipe – Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken

I’ve been so slack on the cooking front this week and Chris hasn’t really done any either. Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken is a really lazy recipe which has a big effect. All of us love the kind of meal where you stick it all in the middle of the table and help yourself.

Even better is that you put it all in the slow cooker in the morning and hey presto it’s all done in time for dinner later on.

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken

What you will need:

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of fat
1 1/2 cups BBQ Sauce (I used Sweet Baby Rays Honey BBQ)
3 medium red onions, grated
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp worchestershire sauce
2 Tbsp brown sugar

What to do:

Pop the chicken breasts in the slow cooker.

Mix all the other ingredients in a bowl and pour over the chicken.

Add the onion.

Leave to cook throughout the day.

Shred the chicken which should just fall apart.

Serve with salad, coleslaw in a roll or wrap.

Perfect.

Lisa x

Guest Post: How we cut more than £10k from our annual spending!

How we cut more than £10k from our annual spending, without even noticing!

Guest Post from Ryan Storey – How we cut more than £10k from our annual spending, without even noticing. I have been blogging for a while now at kakeibo about cost saving strategies and generally living a frugal lifestyle, but it wasn’t until a friend really challenged me on the benefits of these strategies, that I actually took the time to work out the overall impact to our family finances. I was absolutely blown away when I added it all up! There were some strategies that I was really pleased with when I found them, that honestly didn’t amount to much when I added them up over the year, but the cumulative saving came to £10k and I almost couldn’t believe it. I’ve outlined the strategies below so hopefully others can benefit from these too. I found it very useful putting them all together in one place, like a warm fuzzy metaphorical pat on the back, maybe you should try doing the same and give yourself some well-deserved credit too!

How We Cut More Than £10k From Our Annual Spending

Before I get into the detail, it is probably helpful to have a bit of a background to give these some context. I have briefly outlined our situation below:

  • Age: 32
  • Married with two children – my daughter is 3 and my son is 4 months old
  • Essentially a single income family, my wife stays at home with the kids, but does do a bit of work around pre-school times as a PA from home
  • I work in London and commute about an hour every day
  • I am an accountant, with a passion for financial education, seeing the benefit it has brought me so far
  • I am constantly shopping around and thinking of ways to save money – I treat it like a game
  • We have had significant debt in the past ~ £35k, which we have now predominantly paid off – more on that later…

I think it is important to say that the savings that we make are reinvested in other things, like home improvements and maintaining a comfortable lifestyle. There is a common misconception that living frugally equates to living like a pauper. The key for us is maintaining a lifestyle that we can afford, being more disciplined about each purchase we make, but living the life that we want to live. It is a fine balance, because like dieting, if the life you build is not sustainable long-term, then you are more likely to slip back into bad habits.

The B word…

I feel like I need to start with a brief bit about budgeting and monitoring finances – many people have a budget, but what is often missed is regular monitoring of your spending against your budget, both within the month and following the month, to ensure that you are staying within your means. I see budgeting as past, present and future.

Past 

I review expenditure following the month compared with the budget and revise my budget going forward if things are changing, i.e. fuel prices going up and spending more, I make an adjustment for that. The budget is only as good as the day you set it, you need to keep tweaking it to make it reasonably accurate. I also use this to categorise expenditure and then start working through each item and seeing if I can either cut down, or get a better deal. That is basically how I found most of the strategies in the first place, i.e. being motivated to go and do some shopping around. 

Present 

Ensuring that you stay within your means and budget, results in avoiding borrowing money to see you through the month. I update our budget vs. actual during the month at least once per week, and reign in spending if it is getting out of control. This could be a time consuming exercise, but last year I transitioned all of our budgeting and monitoring from a basic spreadsheet, to a cloud-based accounting package called Xero. It downloads your bank transactions and using AI categorises most for you to just review and accept, which has automated a huge amount of this process and given me back about 12 full days per year when I add up the time saving. The subscription does cost me money (approx. £60), but based on the savings below, assistance in keeping us in our budget and the time saving, this was an investment I was willing to make.

Future 

I run a rolling 12 month budget and deliberately budget monthly so that costs like holiday, birthdays, Xmas and other big outlays such as car service etc. are captured in the proper months. This helps me work out what I need to save each month to make sure that I am then not short in those months. This also helps me to forecast for other transactions that we are planning and see if it is feasible, like buying a sofa, or washing machine for example. It is better to work out that it is not possible in a spreadsheet, than signing up and realising that you have run out of money!

For more on budgeting, check out our detailed blog post at -> I’ve made a Budget, why do I still have no money?

Our cost cutting strategies – tried and tested!

So, without further ado, here is a summary of our cost cutting strategies in no particular order and the total that they will save us over the coming year:

Caveat: Some of these are specific to our circumstances and won’t be possible for all, but the concept remains the same – if it is a big cost, think about how you could save money, even if that is just changing your routine or behaviour. 

Mobile phones – this is my favourite, as previously there just weren’t really any options to reduce this cost drastically unless you could afford to buy your phone outright (or chose to not have a smartphone of course…). The other reason I have been raving about it to friends and family is because of the way that contracts have been sold in the past does not clearly demonstrate how much you are ending up paying for the phone, which I think is unfair to the consumer. Using Unshackled.com, I will have saved £150 on my phone this year (£300 over the life of the contract), but I will also use Unshackled.com for my wife when her contract is up in September too, which will save another £50 this year.

Razors and shaving – I was fed up with how much I was spending on razors and shaving stuff, so I shopped around and now have a King of Shaves subscription, saving me £44 per year. It also comes in the post, so you don’t even have to think about it!

National Insurance refund – it is a good idea to check your payslip, especially if you have changed employers in the tax year like I have. I realised that I had overpaid National Insurance by £261. National insurance is often overlooked, as it is not dealt with on a cumulative basis by your employer if you are under the PAYE scheme. I had to call and write to HRMC, but it is worth it if you can get some money back! This is also a reason to run a tight budget, as it will show up when you are comparing forecast to actual on a monthly basis. 

Multi-car insurance – I shopped around for insurance when my wife’s car was up for renewal, exploring multi-car policies and taking into account the £50 I had to pay to get out of the pre-existing separate insurance I had on my car, I will have saved £622 this year.

Parking for work – I commute to work and have to drive to my local train station, parking at the train station costs £12 per week, but I get up a bit earlier and manage to park on a nearby side street (they would all be taken if I didn’t go earlier), saving £500 per year. Who says the early bird doesn’t catch the worm?!

Train travel – I realised that on renewing my season ticket that if I made a slight tweak to my destination, I would no longer need to pay for tube fares getting to my office. It means that I need to walk a short distance, but that is more than worth it considering I will now save £1,360 over the next year!

Lunches for work – I either make my lunch everyday, or take leftovers (also reducing food waste), but on average cost no more than £1 per day. Before I was spending £5 per day, therefore this is a saving of £900 per year.

Coffee on my commute – I have a coffee on the way to work each morning (I’m up early to get that parking space remember), but since getting a KeepCup for Xmas and taking a coffee from home instead, I will now save £400 this year as a result.

Nappies for my newborn son – we use ‘subscribe and save’ through Amazon saving £38 per year.

Childcare vouchers£300 saved on pre-school fees before my daughter got the free hours, by getting the childcare vouchers through my employer and therefore saving the tax on my pay.

TV & broadband – saved £43 over the year, but managed to upgrade Sky to Sky Q and broadband to fibre on BT Infinity – I could have chosen to just get a discount on my Sky HD package instead, which I negotiated down to 50% off, for a saving of £300 per year, but decided to reinvest it instead. Broadband is one of life’s necessities after all…

Home insurance – shopped around for my home insurance and will save £90 this year by going through John Lewis Insurance. 

Groceries – we shop at Aldi where possible, we do still have to get some things elsewhere, but we save approx. £1,000 over the year as a result. Plus, you get a workout trying to pack your own bags as the checkout assistant fires things through at break-neck speed!

Meal wheel – for my wife’s baby shower present, instead of getting baby ‘stuff’ her best friend set up a ‘meal wheel’, which is basically your friends making you dinners and bringing them over in the first few weeks after the baby is born. It saves both time and money, which are equally important at that key time, but amounted to about £100 saved and immeasurable amounts in sanity. 

Hand me down clothes – with our first child being a girl, we would have needed to buy lots of clothes for our son, but friends and family have donated ‘hand me down’ clothes, which has already saved us at least £100, but will save us a lot more over the year as well.

Breastfeeding – my wife breastfeeds our son, which means we don’t buy formula, which will save us about £120 this year.

Leased car termination fee – I used to have a leased car through my employer. When I left last year I was required to pay a termination fee. It seemed high, so I challenged it, going all the way back to the terms and conditions after lots of arguing and doing my own calculation. They finally accepted a £500 reduction due to their “errors” in the calculation. It is important to know what you are paying for and sticking to your guns if it doesn’t seem right!

Nest thermostat and insulation – I had a Nest Thermostat installed last year, which learns your routines and how your house heats up. We used to have a basic timer on the boiler, which meant the heating was always on for 8 hours per day. Since having it installed there have been many days where it has only been on for 3 or 4 hours instead, even over the winter, giving us a comfortable environment. I will really need to run this for a whole year to determine cost savings, but I think this could help a lot. We also live in an older house, which had no insulation in large sections of the loft. I did some research and insulated it myself on a weekend. It cost me £300 for the insulation, but on average savings achieved by insulating your property can be £600+. Therefore, I estimate £200 saving (after taking into account what I spent) to be prudent over the year.

Re-mortgage – Last year we were planning on re-mortgaging our existing property, to reduce our monthly payments, take advantage of the ridiculously low interest rates and pay down credit card debt. We had the house valued as part of the process and actually ended up selling, moving to a bigger house paying off all our debt and getting a lower interest rate. It is important to say here that I used a financial advisor to help me with this process, which I would strongly recommend for any significant financial decisions like that. The result is that overall we are now £300 better off each month, therefore a saving of £3,600 over a year and have more space and a better quality of life. Much less of our hard earned cash goes into making interest payments.

Drum roll for the net total saving over the next year…..£10,318!

Hopefully you too can utilise some of these and make savings yourself. Are there any great cost saving strategies that I have missed? Let us know and get involved with the conversation on social media:

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Thank you Ryan for your great post. If you have any amazing ways to save money then do leave us a comment with your suggestions or pop over to Ryan’s site for more tips. 

Lisa