Category Archives: Finance

Ditch the gym – how to keep fit for free

I’ve put this post in ‘Life’, ‘Style’ and ‘Finance’ because it applies to all. You see, as part of my mission to save money, I decided about two years ago to shun gyms and try to keep fit for free.  I was getting fed up with the fact that £65 was being sucked out of my bank account every month regardless of how often I went for a work out. £65 a MONTH! Over a year – because many gyms shamelessly lock you in for minimum contracts of about 12-18 months – this is £780! THINK what you could do with that money! Shall I help?  See below:

TWO pairs of Jimmy Choos (Romy 85 Pumps £425 and Miami trainers £350) and CHANGE!

jimmychootrainers

 

A Mulberry handbag (Lily £750)!

MULBERRY

Or a holiday!

No brainer, huh?

Anyway, by quitting the gym, I didn’t stop exercising, I just found ways to keep fit for free. Conveniently, most of my methods sit on my phone!

Running

My main form of exercise is running. With the right music playlist and an interesting running route, it can do wonders for your mood, health and bum.

So if you are already a keen runner like me, I’d recommend this:

mapmyrunMap my run (on iOS and Android) – I have a heart rate monitor but I use this beauty of an app to track my distance, time and therefore speed.  It updates you every mile  on time and speed and you can play your music over the top which means the time flies when you’re running.  Your runs can also be logged so that you can monitor your progress over time. And if you’re sadistic or a show off, you can also share your times online with complete strangers. Yeah right.

Now if you don’t really enjoy running because you find it quite boring, this is the app for you:

zombiesrunZombies, Run! (on iOS and Android) If you like to add a little excitement to your run and don’t suffer too much from nightmares, try this.  Open the app and start running.  You’ll be running along and then suddenly you hear heavy breathing and weird animal like groaning.  Then a shout that you must hurry up as the Zombies are coming!  It will absolutely make you run faster and push you to  get more from your workout but just be careful not to run though a wood or quiet street when you’re using it as it may feel a little too real and freak you out completely.

Circuits and mat work

If running is not for you or you want more of an all body personal training kind of experience, I recommend:

nike training clubNike Training App (on iOS and Android) This is a personal trainer in your phone. It’s brilliant. You pay pennies to download the app and then have access to hundreds of 30 and 45 minute workouts focused on tightening, toning or strengthening whether you’re a beginner or an enthusiast.  You have access to demonstrations of each exercise so you can make sure you’re doing each step correctly and the trainer calls out words of encouragement throughout.  I cannot recommend this app highly enough.

510QAa9l1+LSworkit (on iOS and Android) – This is great for people who blame a lack of free time for not exercising. With this app, you can do as little as 5 minute workouts of strength, cardio, yoga or stretching.  It’s really good if you’re injured as you can focus on particular parts of the body.

Yoga

If Yoga is more your bag, then you need to check out Yoga with Adriene. You will not find a nicer, cuter, more qualified yoga teacher anywhere on the web and her tutorials are addictive.

Team activities

Moving away from technology, there are plenty of activities you can do with other people, for free!

You’ve heard of army bootcamps right? You head to the park, get shouted at and do circuits until all the fluid in your body has been sweated out. Amazing exercise but hard work.  Well, British Military Fitness run free trials of their bootcamps – if you’re brave enough!

Alternatively, if you like a friendlier sort of exercise class, there’s a fairly new local council initiative whereby qualified fitness instructors teach exercise classes for free in parks! It looks like it’s currently just a London-based scheme at the moment but if it gets enough interest, it may go nationwide! Details can be found at Our Parks.

So, short of some kit and trainers, what more do you need??? Follow my tips to keep fit for free and start sweating AND saving!!

Saving for a baby

If you’re having a baby, congratulations! And aside from the fact that a few months from now you’ll be holding that bundle of joy in your arms (woohoo!), you’ll also get a lot of time off work! (Double woohoo!)

But on that note, if you’re not working, you’re going to have less money coming in (unless your employer offers full pay during maternity leave). Eek! And baby things aren’t cheap, are they?

Well, don’t panic! Help is here. I’m going to give you a little help and advice on how you can start saving for a baby so that you can keep the money worries at bay when your little one arrives.

The stress-free guide to saving for a baby

1.. Maternity clothing – I’m afraid you’re going to get a teeny bit bigger(!) so you’ll need clothes to fit your ever expanding belly.  The problem is that buying maternity clothing is a minefield. Most brands only sell it online which means you can’t try before you buy and a lot of the ranges are incredibly uncomfortable. As a result, many mums-to-be end up buying a lot of items they don’t get to wear. My money saving tips here are as follows:

  • Don’t dismiss your current wardrobe. Your favourite jeans and trousers won’t fit you but any loose fitting shirts, tops and dresses might. I was able to wear a lot of my existing wardrobe until month eight.
  • New Look offers some of the best maternity jeans and leggings on the market and Gap’s maternity/nursing tops are very flattering and comfortable. Why go expensive when you don’t have to?
  • Be realistic about your style limitations while you’re heavily pregnant. You don’t need to look like a million dollars every day so all you need is a couple of simple tops and jeans/leggings and you should getaway with your existing jackets, scarfs and wraps.
  • Borrow maternity clothes from any of your mates that have recently had children. I’m not asking you to share their big pants but there may be a few nice shawls or tops that you could borrow to save you buying your own.

2.. Building a baby fund – Set up a savings account as soon as you can. This is where you’ll put all the money you’re saving for a baby. And to save this money, here’s what I recommend:

  • You’re no longer drinking booze or smoking so whatever you used to spend on that per month (and be honest!) should go into the baby fund. Also, get your partner to cut back on his drinking and smoking too and that baby fund will grow even faster.
  • Shortly before the baby is born, you’ll go through a nesting phase where you’ll have strong urges to clean and sort the house out. Rather than doing this late in your pregnancy and causing yourself an injury, do it now. With a little help, you may find a pile of things that you can sell to make some money.
  • Change your eating out habits. DON’T eat out less often as it’s important you make the most of your ability to go out before the baby arrives, but instead use vouchers when you eat out. Then put the money you’ve saved in the baby fund!
  • On the subject of eating, now that you can’t eat certain foods, use the change of diet as an opportunity to review the way you do your food shopping and cut down on your food bills. For help, I have a guide here. Again, what you save each week, should go into the savings account.
  • Having a baby is a new and exciting experience and there is a temptation to buy a ton of baby books and guides to help your through it. My recommendation is not to do this. Speaking from experience, even though I bought lots of these books, I found the most valuable information came from the internet or my mummy friends. Save your money. A good website for help is http://www.babycentre.co.uk
  • Review your direct debits for membership fees for gyms, fitness classes and other clubs or teams. I’m sorry to say that once the baby arrives, you’ll be far too busy to make use of these for a while so it’s best to cancel them as soon as you can and save that money.

3. Getting the home baby-ready. There are a lot of things to buy in preparation for the baby’s arrival but how do you avoid spending a fortune? Here are my tips:

  • For the nursery, you’ll need a cot, black-out blinds, a wardrobe and a changing table. Review eBay for any nearly new items (you don’t want anything that’s not in great condition) and then I recommend obtaining the rest of the furniture from Mothercare, Toys-r-us or Ikea. They are the cheapest brands and the former two often have discount vouchers so keep your eyes peeled and get ready to buy! For the black-out blind, you are spoilt for choice when it comes to low cost options, but again, look out for sales so you can buy it when it’s at its cheapest.
  • Take control of the baby shower. Your friends and family are likely to want to celebrate your new arrival with a party or with gifts. Rather than going somewhere swanky, host something small at your mum’s or best friend’s house to save everyone money and then they can spend that instead on something you will need for the baby. You can set up a little gift list of small affordable items such as nappies, newborn clothes, baby wipes, changing mat and other bits and pieces so that you’re stocked up for the first few weeks.
  • Join your local mums group on Facebook. Not only will you get lots of support and advice, but you’re likely to also get offered a few helpful items that they no longer need such as pregnancy pillows and moses baskets!

Once the baby arrives, a whole load of new costs will arrive, so check out my guide on acquiring these things simply and cheaply here!

I hope this little guide has helped you and given you some tips for saving for a baby. Now sit back, put your feet up and enjoy the peace and quiet. You’re growing a little person and need to take it easy!

The month’s 10 best clothing buys under £10 – July

Eek it’s been a while since I last posted! OK well I’ve had a few excuses….I’ve been back at work and my son turned one! Oh and the weather got so much better! Good enough? Ok probably not. Well to make up for it, and to celebrate the fact that it’s FINALLY getting SUNNY around here, I’ve pulled together a collection of gorgeous summery items that are ALL ridiculously cheap. Yup, it’s this month’s 10 best clothing buys under £10!

Remember, as always, these are such good value that they’re not going to be available for long so if you like them, snap them up soon!

July-10-under-10

july-10-under-1021. New Look Bright Orange Jacquard Jersey Skater Dress, £7.99, 2. New Look Grey Brooklyn 86 Roll Sleeve T-shirt, £7.99, 3. Primark Turquoise Crew Neck Top, £6, 4. H&M Strapless Playsuit, £7.99, 5. George at Asda Contrast Strap Sandals, £10, 6. H&M Dark Blue Ribbed Dress, £7.99, 7. Primark Orange Print Playsuit, £5, 8. New Look White Floral Print Strappy Skater Dress, £7.99, 9. George at Asda Dark Wash Denim Shorts, £10, 10. Primark Pale Blue Sleeveless Shirt, £10

Have you found any clothing bargains? Let us know by posting a comment below!

Leaving home? How to cope with the financial stresses of a flatmate

Whether you’re moving out of the family home to go to uni or to just to gain some independence, it’s an exciting time. Yeah, you do have to do your own washing and cooking BUT you’re free to come and go as you please and if you want to make pancakes when you get in at 2am and set off the smoke alarm in the process, you can!

PLUS, you get to live with someone (or some people) who is your age and shares your interests!

What could POSSIBLY go wrong?

Well, there are a few things……I remember washing up and cleaning became such an issue that we once created an OFFICIAL rota (YUP!) but the issue I want to talk about here is money.

Yup, it’s a touchy subject for everyone but if you don’t discuss some ground rules on day one with your flatmates, you run the risk of falling out with them within the first month of living together.

Need some examples to convince you why there could be a problem here?

No problem.

Let’s start with food. Unless you like all of the same things and will be cooking together every night, you’re probably going to shop separately. But does that mean you’re going to have two bottles of milk and two tubs of butter in the fridge? What about fruit? Are you going to have two fruit bowls? Two loaves of bread? Do you even have room for that? Maybe you will share after all, but then how do you work out if you’re splitting everything equally? Count the tea bags? I know I sound crazy here but even the most laid back people get to this point when money is tight, trust me.

And what about bills? Does one person pay them and then the other person transfers money to their account each month? How do you set up a system to ensure this does happen every single month without delay? NOBODY likes to chase their mates for cash.

What if you don’t even know your new housemates that well? Perhaps you found them on the internet. You have no idea how good they are with money!

Have I made my point about the financial stresses of a flatmate? Ok good.

Well let’s look at how you can avoid these issues, simply and fairly, so you don’t go running back to mama two months in. Hurrah!

how to manage money with a new room-mate-3

Here is FeastStyleThrive’s guide to handling flatshare finances:

1. Communication is key.

Make it clear, in a non-scary way, that to avoid hassle, you want to get the bill and money chat out the way at the very beginning and schedule a time to sit down with them and go through it all. You need their agreement for this to work so make sure they’re up for it. And make sure the meeting happens asap!

2. Cover all areas.

Together, go through all the bills and costs that you will incur in the flat, both big and small. This should cover everything from utilities, council tax and internet, to cleaning supplies, toilet paper and weekly groceries.

3. Be reasonable.

Identify what you can split evenly – toilet roll is included in this, regardless of what gender you are(!) – and which items can’t be shared and therefore must be bought separately.

4. Take responsibility.

Try to split roles fairly. Rather than one person paying all of the bills, can they be shared? It will help your credit rating if you’re a registered billpayer! Obviously whoever pays less, ends up paying the balance to their flatmate to make it even. Also share the shopping responsibility where possible.

5. Make a record of what has been agreed.

This must include not only who is paying for what, but also on which dates of the month the payments will be made.

6. Don’t fester.

If you feel like an element of the plan isn’t working, then aim to discuss it, calmly, with your flatmate as soon as possible. It can then be resolved quickly and easily without any arguments.

7. Sort all of the above with science!

Yep, it’s true there is an app for everything, even managing finances with your flatmates.

splittable-app.jpgSplittable is an app which lets you and your housemates split all bills and everyday expenses (even nights out!). It then keeps track and tells you who’s paid for what and who still owes money. It also shows you what payments are coming up so you don’t get caught out.

All you have to do is download the app, sign up and then invite your flatmates. You can then start logging bill or cost details and who is taking responsibility for what.

splittable-screenshot2 splittable-screenshot

An easy way of establishing a fair and reliable way of managing shared finances, leaving you to enjoy your freedom!

Have you experienced any financial stresses of a flatmate or awkward situations with housemates? How did you overcome them?

 

The month’s 10 best clothing buys under £10 – June

It’s officially Summer. I’ve had a bbq, consumed Pimms, and have dodgy tan lines on my back to prove it.

So I thought I’d give this month’s 10 under £10 a summer holiday theme. I have therefore gathered together my favourite items of beachwear currently available to buy on the world wide web.

Some of the bikinis I’ve paired together aren’t necessarily from the same sets but together they cost under £10.

beachwearunder10pound

beachwearunder10pound-2 1a. New Look Coral Tropical Print Contrast Trim Bikini Top £5, 1b. New Look Black Knotted Bikini Bottoms £5, 2. Primark Black White Stripe Swimming Costume £6, 3. ASOS Straw Trilby Hat £10, 4. ASOS Fabienne Studded Flat Sandals £10, 5a. New Look Soft Cup Triangle Bikini Top £3.99, 5b. New Look Black Tie Side Bikini Bottoms £4.99 6. Monki Round Tort Retro Sunglasses £10, 7. H&M Short Jersey Dress £9.99 8a. Debenhams Iris & Edie Bikini Top £4.80 8b. Debenhams Iris & Edie Bikini Bottoms £3.60, 9. Missguided ankle strap red sandals £10, 10. H&M Strapless Playsuit £7.99

While these are my favourites, it is possible I have missed one or two stores so if there are any pieces of lovely holiday wear under £10 that you have come across that haven’t been included here, please do post a comment below and share a link to the item in question on the FeastStyleThrive Facebook page.

Until next time…….