How to get some Jimmy Choos or £575 in two months

I want these Jimmy Choos:

Jimmy Choo Lucy 85 £525
Jimmy Choo Lucy 85 £525

and I want these Louboutins:

Christian Louboutin Pigalle 100 £455

So the way I see it, I can do one of two things.  I can either do nothing about trying to get them and simply moan that I’m too poor to ever be able to own something as lovely as those shoes….OR I can take steps to gather the money to afford them.

You can too!

Set yourself a target (like the shoes above) and then start saving. And I wouldn’t be a money blogger if I didn’t tell you how to do it. So here’s your Jimmy Choo ownership guide!

1. Start making packed lunches.  Swap your high street cafes or takeaway shop meals for home-prepared grub for two months and instead of spending £7-8 every week day (that’s 40 days), you’ll spend only a tenner a week (or less) and save yourself approx. £220!  Heck you’ll be nearly halfway there!

2. Switch your utility provider and telecom provider via a cashback site like Quidco or Topcashback.  How does it work?  Well click on the links to sign up and then search through the utility providers to find the deal offering the most cashback. As an example, at the time of writing this, Topcashback was offering £126 cashback – that’s £126 cash to you in your account – if you sign up to SSE’s New Customer Superfast Fibre Broadband + Talk Anytime by clicking through its site.  There’s nothing to pay (apart from your bills) and you should expect your £126 in your account within a few months!  With Quidco you can earn £38 in cashback just by using Simply Switch to change your gas and electricity provider. For more details on how cashback sites work, click here.

Right, so where are we….. £220 + £126 + £38 = £384 in two months.  Still some way to go. So….

3. Have a clear out.  Go through all your old dvds, cds and books and for all of those still in good nick, sell them to a site like Zapper at about 35p each (although some will be worth more than that).  It doesn’t seem like much but they cover your postage and if you can get hold of about 100 items – actually quite easy once you have a proper look through all your old collections – you could earn £35.

4. If you’re going to start saving money thanks to this blog(!) then you need to ensure you have a good savings account. Sign up for an ISA with Standard Life via Quidco and earn £50 cashback. For info on the new limit for ISA saving, check out my article on the recent Budget.  You might as well review your current account provider too. If you open a Nationwide FlexDirect current account via Topcashback, you’ll earn £36.75. Again, for more details on how cashback sites work, click here.

So, £384 + £35 + £50 + £36.75 = £505.75. Hurrah! Enough for the Louboutins! But not quite enough for the Jimmy Choos, so….

4. Finally, to get to £525 and reach the Louboutin mark, we turn to the trusty mobile phone. A new smartphone is released almost every month so we’re not committed to such long contracts as we used to be.  And that’s a good thing as phone contracts can be expensive! I used to pay £49.50 per month for the same number of texts and calls that I get now through Giffgaff for £10 a month.  Yep, £10 a month.  Switch now and in two months, you’ll save yourself £80.

That gets you to £585.50 in two months (ish).  So you can get the Jimmy Choos!

Get ready to treat yourselves!

Baby food: potato scones

I have a fussy eater. He’s only eight months old and can’t keep saliva from POURING out of his month yet he’s managed to develop very strong views on what baby food he will and will not eat.

babyweaning

It has made the weaning process very very challenging.

As a result, I’ve had to be quite resourceful and very patient trying different baby food and gradually I’ve found things he’ll eat.

One such recipe I’ve created is baby friendly potato scones. They’re very simple to make and even tasty enough for adults to enjoy too. Plus, he can pick them up and feed himself which is an added bonus!

To make 24, you will need:

500g potatoes

25g unsalted butter

A dash of milk

120g plain flour

Peel and cut the potatoes into small roast potato sized chunks and boil in a saucepan for 10-12 minutes until very soft.

Put them through a ricer or use a masher, and then put them back into the pot with the butter and milk and mix until you have mashed potato.

Add the plain flour to the pot and mix well.  It will form a dough.

floury mashed potato

potato scone dough 1

Roll the dough out on a floured surface until it is half a cm thick and use a pastry cutter to cut 24 rounds.

potato scone dough 2

Put a non stick frying pan on a medium heat and add a few of the scones at a time. Cook for 3 minutes on each side until lightly browned and then turn onto a wire rack to cool.baby potato scones

They will then last 3 days in the fridge or can be stored in the freezer until you need them.  potato scones

Non-alcoholic cocktail – Guilt free gin and tonic (and a money saving tip)

It’s Monday and you may very well be craving a drink of the alcoholic variety. Anticipating that, I have cleverly prepared a non-alcoholic cocktail post for you to try. *bows*

lime-907124_1280

With all the scare stories we hear about the dangers of heavy drinking, P and I try not to drink alcohol during the week.  I say try because there is always a reason why a drink or three has usually passed our lips before 6pm on a Friday: evening plans, special lunches, or just simply a shit day.

Anyway, when the latter does happen, I revert back to  a guilt free gin and tonic – a non-alcoholic cocktail “recipe” my husband introduced to me after a PARTICULARLY stressful Monday at work a few years ago.

I came home and P thrust a glass in my hand. My coat was still on, and I was desperate for the loo so I can’t say my concentration levels were high but it did look suspiciously like alcohol.

Clear liquid? Check. Ice and a slice of lime? Check. The special gin and tonic glasses? (We have big glasses for water because I drink MASSES of water and then normal sized glasses are used for gin.) Check. The bastard is trying to make me drink a GIN N TONIC!!!

In response to my scared face, he shouts “Try it!!!” several times. Prone to giving in to peer pressure, I surrendered. “Do you like it????” he asks hopping. “Yes but you know I like gin and tonic.” I say sulking.

“It’s not gin!!” he laughs as if he’s the cleverest person on the planet. “It’s just tonic and lime!”

Folks, it turns out that if you remove the gin from a gin and tonic, it tastes EXACTLY THE SAME!!! Honestly, I would have this on nights out if there weren’t additional reasons for drinking alcohol. It’s AMAZING!

If you can bear it, order it occasionally when you’re out and you’ll save a ton of money. Say you go out to the pub twice a week, and on each outing you buy a couple of drinks.  Each time, swap one glass of wine or one cocktail for a Fake gin and tonic. Essentially it’s just tonic but with the right amount of lime, it’ll taste just like the real thing (TRUST ME).  So 8 nights x (£6 drink less the cost of tonic water at £1.50) = £36.

Try it! There’s no need to thank me! Ok, you’re welcome.

4 ways to save money on insurance

Here’s another super helpful money saving tip for you.  I haven’t done many of these so far but there are lots more on their way.

Today, the topic is insurance. We all need it.  Whether it’s for our car, our home, or our health and belongings on holiday, insurance gives you the peace of mind that should the worst happen, you’re covered financially. The problem is it can be very expensive.

So, here are some ways to save money on insurance when you come to renew.

Check you’re not covered already

First of all, check that your bank doesn’t already provide you with car/home/travel insurance as a privilege of being a customer.  Several banks do this as a perk of signing up.  As an examply, my bank provides me with annual travel insurance so that saves me about £25 every time I go away.

Let comparison sites do the work

Secondly, to save money on insurance, try a comparison site such as Money Supermarket or Compare the Market.  They search hundreds of insurers on your behalf to find you the best deal for your requirements. So, enter your requirements and let them do the hard work for you.

Get cashback on your premium

My best advice to save money on insurance is to visit a cashback site.  All the main insurers will feature on these sites and will pay you a typical amount of £50 cash if you take out insurance with them via a cashback site.  In fact, on Quidco currently is an offer with Hiscox insurance for £80 cashback when you take out buildings and contents insurance! For full details of how cashback sites work, click here.

Also, some of the comparison sites offer cashback so you can earn money on the cheapest deal too.  Quidco has its own car insurance comparison cashback tool which means you get the cheapest cover and cashback!

Don’t forget your home insurance

Finally, don’t be tricked into buying mobile phone insurance, camera insurance, or ring insurance.  You don’t need it as all of this should be covered under your home contents policy.  BUT please check the wording first!

More finance tips to come…..

 

Hen do ideas – mine!

It wouldn’t be right for me to post hen do ideas without mentioning my own special event, particularly as my best mates CarinaandAlyse did an awesome job of organising it and I was so happy to have all my closest friends with me.

I blog so much about hen dos that I really should dedicate a whole section to them. I’ve done London-based, Brighton-based, Bristol-based, PortsmouthandCowes-based and Lisbon-based hen dos and have covered a huge variety of activities from sailing and fancy dress to chocolate-making and ice-skating so my bridesmaids had a challenge on their hands to plan something new for my big weekend!

My brief:
– UK, quite close to a town centre but with the feeling of being remote, and in a house rather than hotel
– NO tacky bride-to-be paraphernalia
– NO stripper
– a new activity to try
– not too expensive for everyone
– no big, heavy clubbing session or group hen do tour (I do love hitting the tiles but it’s not for everyone)
– MEMORABLE and CHILLED

And, man did they do well! This is what the lovely CarinaandAlyse organised:

norton barn, canterbury

This is the house we stayed in, in Canterbury, Kent.  Booked via MulberryCottages.com, it slept 14 comfortably and had two huge living areas for the various activities we had planned. It was also quite peaceful!

canterbury

decoration

The girls also did a fab job of decorating the place before I arrived! No willies anywhere! 🙂 They also made sure the kitchen was well stocked!

food drink drugs

We started on the booze pretty much straight away.  Everyone had been asked to bring a bottle of something and the food kitty ensured we had all the food and drink we’d need.

CarinaandAlyse cooked dinner for everyone and then it was game and gift time (I know, I’m VERY lucky.)

The night got quite messy because every game involved drinking quickly.  The first was pass the parcel with each layer of wrapping hiding a challenge. My favourite one was impressively completed by my sister-in-law who had to read a page of 50 shades of grey out loud.  I need to point out here that the page was one of the sauciest and my mum was there so it was utterly embarrassing for her.

wedding pictionary

We also played wedding themed pictionary. I am CRAP at drawing I’ve discovered but I blamed the champagne at the time.

Instead of pinning a willy on the groom (a common hen do game), we had to stick the lips on P.  We weren’t very good at it.

kiss P

10255365_10101574707450445_3191280542052464451_n

As the bride, I didn’t get a sticker.

10300216_10101574707515315_2059526081679328422_n

What?! I’m short.

Then I was given a bowl of bits of paper, each one holding a clue to who had written it.  If i guessed correctly I got a gift!

clue

wedding teddy

gifts

hen do gifts

This was my haul!  How lucky am I?

We all passed out in the wee hours of Saturday morning and woke up some time later feeling remarkably refreshed!  Given that we were in a house, breakfast was very relaxed with everyone mucking in and then I was given ANOTHER gift to open. A clue to the morning’s activity.  It was this onesie.  And I LOVE IT.

onesie

The activity?  PAINTBALLING!!!

paintballing prep

paintballing time

If you’ve never done it before, GO DO IT.  IT’S AMAZING FUN.  We used a company called Mayhemsoutheast.com and they were great (and very patient with 12 scared women). We split into two teams and played a variety of games that also featured lots of  exclamations of “ooh, sorry!”, some strategy, a few minor injuries and bruises.

I learned that it’s better to get hit on a bony part of your body than a soft bit.  A rib or hip shot will be fine but a shot to the buttock will sting for ages.  So now you know!

After paint balling, we all gathered for lunch and I was given…..ANOTHER gift.  This was yet again a clue for the evening activity.

1001974_10101574708263815_968421153161634621_n

It took me AGES.  SERIOUSLY. At one point, I guessed “toasting” and they said remove a letter and I STILL couldn’t get it.

10178015_10101574708203935_199655375556429129_n

What were we doing?  Champagne tasting!

We went back to the house after a short walk through Canterbury and after several rounds of tea and a bit of a sit down (the paintballing aged us a bit i think!) we all went to our rooms to “glam up”.  And didn’t we do well?

10259044_10101574708393555_7749800630471975406_n

The tasting session was fab.  Hosted by wine expert Clive Barlow, we tried at least 8 different kinds of fizz and he ran a quiz throughout.  I definitely saw more competitive spirit for this than the paint balling! Needless to say, we all did very well with the champagne quiz and I won a magnum!!

champagne tasting

When we were all sufficiently wobbly, we moved to our second living area and dining room (I told you the place was big!!) where we were greeted by a private chef!  Our 3 course dinner was ready!!

1959304_10101574708742855_5489224545798697445_n

CarinaandAlyse had booked a local catering company, Noreen Westwood Catering, to use our kitchen to cook a meal, serve, then clean up and leave us to it.  It was such a brilliant idea!  And because we had so much booze in the house already, it was so cost effective!

After dinner, the games resumed!

There was a quiz for all the hens…

hannah quiz

And a dress designing competition where they had to draw their idea of what my wedding dress would look like.  Some weren’t far off!

dress designing

dresses

Then – and this was absolutely amazing – I was presented with a jar.

date jar

Inside, were lots of lollipop sticks coated in glitter with notes on them.  This had been created throughout the weekend in a secret room.  It was a gift from everyone – a jar of date inspiration!

date ideas

date ideas 2

If you are planning a hen do for anyone, you MUST do this.  It’s incredible.

More drinking games followed and then we all crashed in bed.

The next morning, amidst the packing (as it was nearly time to go), I was given a final gift – a clue to our last activity.  A spa kit.  Easy! We were spending the morning at a spa!

We visited the Tor Spa retreat where I was treated to a full body massage. We had the place to ourselves so for the morning, we swam, relaxed, read and chilled.  Bliss.  A great way to end a fab weekend. I haven’t posted a pic here because I’m not sure my mates will appreciate the general public seeing them in their bikinis!

Thanks so much again to my lovely hens Gwun, Emma, Lisa, Amy, Mum, Nancy, Katie, Liz, Caz and Debs.

And to my bridesmaids CarinaandAlyse, I am forever in your debt.  You rock!

1459899_10101574708797745_157083241718849939_n