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!

Delicious and easy chocolate cupcakes with chocolate icing

If I’m asked to make a cake (which is rare), I make chocolate cake because it is, in my opinion, one of the best things ever invented.  Unfortunately, my other half doesn’t really like chocolate cakes.  I’ve been assured it’s not the way I make them, he’s just more of a cheesecake kind a guy.  (Or LOOPY.) Anyway, regardless of his feelings, I can’t help myself making a cake every now and again and have discovered that, by making several chocolate cupcakes rather than one big cake, I can give myself a chocolate fix for a few days and P doesn’t have to be force-fed any of it.

choc cupcakes

To make 6 lovely chocolate cupcakes, you will need:

40g butter (softened)

75g caster sugar

1 egg

55g self raising flour (sifted)

40ml milk

55g plain flour (sifted)

1 tsp of vanilla extract

30 g really dark cooking chocolate

For the icing (yes, this bit is important), you will need:

30g butter (softened)

1 tsp mlk

125g icing sugar (sifted)

25g really dark cooking chocolate

Preheat oven to 170 fan and line a tray with little cupcake cases.

cake batter

Mix together the caster sugar with the butter and, once well mixed, add the egg.

Add the self raising flour and mix well.  Pour in the milk and vanilla extract in stages and combine, before mixing in the plain flour.

Melt the chocolate slowly and then once slightly cooled, stir into the mixture.

more cupcake batter

Spoon into the cupcake cases and bake for 20 minutes.

baked choc cupcakes

Once baked, leave to cool and crack on with melting the remaining 25g of chocolate for the icing.  Mix together the butter, milk and icing sugar.  Pour in the melted chocolate and mix again.

choc icing

Then spread over the cakes in as neat a fashion as you can manage.

more choc cupcakes

Calorie count per cake: Probably quite high. Joy experienced by eating a chocolate cupcake: Definitely very high.

Hope you enjoy!

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!

Why life begins at 30 – and how to achieve the goals you’ve set yourself

Today, I’m writing about myself. Because, even if you follow me on all my social media channels, and subscribe to this blog, and have read the About section of this site, you’ve probably discovered that you still don’t know very much about Hannah Brice.

In fact, the grand total of what you’ve learned about me so far amounts to this:

  • I like chocolate and cake and chips and cheese. I’m basically a dietician’s worst nightmare.
  • I am sensible with my money day to day so that I can frequently treat myself (HOPEFULLY that has come across because if it hasn’t then this blog has been a TOTAL WASTE OF TIME thus far!)
  • I have a very cute baby (see my instagram feed)
  • I’m Scottish and I live in Berkshire.
  • As well as maintaining this blog, I’m also a PR director.

Not a whole lot of detail there, huh?

Well, the purpose of this post is not to fill in the gaps by giving you details like my height and my shoe size (although if you work with a leading women’s shoe brand, I’d happily give you my details over email 😉 ). Instead I want to talk about myself from a emotional and mental point of view. And put to bed a horrible myth about women.

You see, I think there is an attitude out there that sucks. No it’s not political or racial although it is absolutely frightening what is happening to the UK at the moment and I truly hope the madness will end soon. No, what I’m referring to is this mentality that when a woman gets to 30, she’s pretty much past it.

How many of these have you heard about women over 30?

  • She’s now on a race against time to have kids.
  • That’s it, she can say goodbye to decent boobs now.
  • A 30 year old in a club? Ha! Move over grandma!
  • Once you hit 30, hangovers last at least 3 days.
  • If you haven’t established a career by the time you’re in your 30s, you’ve got no chance.
  • Over 30s cannot and should not wear mini skirts, crop tops, hot pants, braids.
  • If you haven’t met the man/woman of my dreams by now, it’s probably never going to happen.
  • Once you hit 30, it’s so much harder to lose weight. You might as well make friends with your cellulite because it’s sticking around forever.

Life begins at 30

I think this mentality is disgusting. None of that’s true. And I’m about to present my case why, in fact, life actually BEGINS at 30 and any goal you set yourself is achievable. [bctt tweet=”Life BEGINS at 30 and any goal you set yourself is achievable” username=”hannahlisabrice”].

life-begins-at-30

Career goals

I went to uni when I was 17 and graduated at age 20. I then skipped the travelling part (except for a few trips to China and Thailand) and started work. For the next decade, I changed jobs 6 times. Yup. I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do. My career goal amounted to a salary target. I hadn’t considered the role I wanted to get or the job satisfaction, so perhaps it wasn’t surprising that it wasn’t until I reached 29 that my situation at work finally clicked. I was leading a team at a PR agency, thriving and loving my job. And despite the fact that I’ve been on maternity leave for a while, I’m excited about starting back next week because I know that my career is just beginning. At 31, I’ve discovered what I’m good at, what’s important to me and where I want to end up which means I can set a path to get myself there. I also have 10 years of experience of handling issues and mistakes which makes me wiser!

At 30, you have another 35+ years of your working life to go. You’ve only experienced 1/4 of your career time so far which is nothing!

My advice to you, whether you think you are in the right career or not, is to take a step back and imagine yourself at 55 and on your way to work. What is that job you’re heading to? For me, it’s one of two: MD/CEO of a comms agency or the CMO of a consumer finance company. What do you want to be? Then, think about what you need to get there and take into consideration the fact that you have 25-ish years to do it. What experience do you need? What would the typical career path look like to get there? Start planning now and believe in yourself that you’ll make it happen.   A complete career change is possible in 30 years!

[bctt tweet=”At 30, you have another 35+ years or 3/4 of your working life to go.” username=”hannahlisabrice”]

Financial goals

Hands up if you spent (or are spending) your 20s skint. Well it’s not entirely surprising. When you’re starting out at work, you don’t earn a lot but you have to pay big city rent prices and it’s likely you spend 30% of your time in the office, 30% of your time in bed and the remaining 40% of your time in the pub!

You look back and think WHY didn’t I save so that I could build a deposit and get on the property ladder??! Well, even if you had saved a little when you were younger, your 30s is the time to save properly. After all, you’re likely to be earning more and you have licence to be a little more sensible with your spending.

I’ll admit, I’ve always been good at saving. Why? Well I used to be cheap. I didn’t like spending money and when I did I’d buy cheap things. Then, I met my husband and he changed me. I now love expensive food and wine, I’ve realised that quality costs money, and I’ve finally discovered the thrill you get from buying something nice that you’ve earned by working so hard.

It does mean that I’ve had to get even better at saving money and thanks to buying a flat in London in 2007 just before property prices crashed, I feel I have debt everywhere. I want to clear that debt. So, I’ve set myself a target – an amount I need to have saved to pay off a significant amount of my debt by 2020. I’ve broken that down into a monthly figure and I’ve changed the way I spend completely. I’m a girl who needs to treat herself so I’ve established a system whereby I can still buy what’s important to me, I just buy it in a way that means I spend less.  I really recommend that you adopt this plan too and you can follow the guide for free by popping your email address below.

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[bctt tweet=”Life’s too short to be skint and in debt. Start thinking about your financial future.” username=”hannahlisabrice”]

Beauty and weight goals

I’ve been overweight my entire life. I wouldn’t say I’ve been fat but the charts would say I was overweight.

In an effort to change that I spent every day of my 20s on a diet. No, actually, that’s not true. I spent every MONDAY of my 20s on a diet. And I tried every diet. I also got into swimming and did a bit of running. I joined a gym. I bought clothes too small for me as an incentive. I hid money so that I could financially reward myself for weight loss. But nothing worked.

Perhaps there were too many temptations in my 20s. Because, once I reached my 30s, something changed. Maybe with age, I’m better at committing to things? Maybe, I am more health conscious? Or maybe it was because I signed myself up to a challenge that I couldn’t let myself fail.

In July last year, I had a baby and tipped the scales at 11 and half stone. At 5ft 4, that’s a lot of weight for my frame to be carrying around. My focus was sleep so I continued to eat whatever I wanted and then one day my brother, who was visiting us, told me about a half marathon he was doing 8 months later and asked me to sign up. Running was not my thing – I hadn’t run further than 5km before that point – but I knew that by committing to some sort of goal which would result in public humiliation for me if I failed, I would train as much as I needed to get there.

And so I signed up and for the next 8 months, I ran when I could and tracked it all on Under Armor’s Map my Fitness app. The good thing about running is that it becomes easier the more you do so I quickly saw a significant improvement in my fitness and I got a teeny bit addicted to the buzz it gave me. Intrigued as to how many calories this exercise was burning, I synced the Map my fitness app to the MyFitnessPal app and that encouraged me to start tracking the calories I consumed.

While I didn’t become obsessed with calorie counting, I did learn masses about my calorie intake and by making a few tiny changes to what I ate each day, the weight began to fall off. (Basically I was eating too much butter. Wayyyyy too much.)

Needless to say, in March this year, I nailed the half marathon, running it in 2 hours. I also lost my baby weight and a lot more and am now the slimmest I’ve ever been. Age has nothing to do with it.

If you want to lose weight or get fit, sign up to some sort of exercise challenge which is out of your comfort zone, tell everyone you care about that you’re doing it (so that you’ll be humiliated if you pull out!) and then get started with the training. Yes it will seem a challenge a first but will get easier and you have the incentive of showing people and yourself what you can do!

Set yourself a goal today and download those two apps I mentioned!

Life goals

I’m going to finish with the very generic term of Life goals which are whatever you want them to be. As with all of the other goals above, take some time out to think about what you want to achieve. If it helps, imagine yourself in your 70s looking back. What would you want to have achieved? Think about the time you have to achieve that (up to 40 years!) and then set yourself some realistic goals and a plan to get there. Anything is possible.

Want to write a book? Set an end date, work out how much time you need to spend on it each week and if that’s do-able, then arm yourself with the help you need to make it happen (i.e. story writing lessons, a laptop, a quiet distraction-free place to work) and do it.

Want to swim with sharks? Work out where you need to go to do it and how much it would cost. Using my free money saving course, find out how much you can save per month and then book that trip.

Want to find happiness? Well, that’s a big one but you can take action and try this little exercise. Take a huge sheet of paper, write happiness in the middle and then around it write down the things that you THINK make you happy (or would make you happy). Then for each of those things, write down why those things make you happy. Then write how you’d do them. Pick a few of the things that you’ve written down and set yourself short term deadlines to complete them. If they are indeed important to you, you’ll make them happen and if you don’t, then go back to the sheet and do some re-working.  This obviously does not solve the huge issue of happiness but might help you gather your thoughts about what you want and need.

My point is, life begins at 30. I’m 31 now,  I have big dreams and I’m going achieve them.

I hope this has helped inspire you! What are your goals? If you’re in your 40s or above, the same applies! What are you working towards?

My current LUSTS

It’s all very well for me sharing lots of tips on saving money and I’m sure you’re trying very hard but I thought I’d give you a little extra encouragement to remember to use cashback sites every time you buy something online, plan your weekly meals to cut down the cost of your grocery shopping, and switch your utility providers. Sure, you’re saving enough each month to pay the bills but wouldn’t you like to save a little more so you can treat yourself too?  By following every tip in my personal finance bootcamp, you can. (Sign up for free at the bottom of this post.)

So, back to the encouragement.

My baby boy is teething really badly at the moment so we’ve been confined to the house for the last week.  As a result, I’ve spent A LOT of time on the internet and I’ve been tempted by A LOT of gorgeous things. Here are the beautiful items that I’m currently lusting after:

my-summer-lusts my-summer-lusts21. Ray-Ban Erika Classic sunglasses £98, 2. GoPro Hero4 Silver Camera £289 (let’s you capture incredible images and video on the go and even underwater as it can be attached to anything easily), 3. Whistles Marina Cross Jumpsuit £250, 4. Personalised Longchamp handbag £89 (check out full details here), 5. Apple iPad Pro 9.7″ from £639 (perfect for working on the go), 6. Compatible Apple Smart Keyboard £149, 7. Reiss Leigh High Neck Lace Top in Apricot £60 (Hurry into John Lewis as it’s sold out on Reiss’ website already!), 8. Apple Pencil £79 (also compatible with the iPad Pro and it enables you to scribble on notes and draw out plans, which is perfect if you’re in the marketing world!)

What do you think of my lusts then? And because I’ve been good with my money this month, I’m going to treat myself to one of these pretty little things….or maybe two!

Sort your finances out and find the money to treat yourself too. Sign up for the free personal finance email boot camp!

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