It is easy to let things slide when you first become a parent in regard to your self care. Some things change over time though…  six months in you probably are wearing clean and coordinated clothes again and getting chance to brush your hair.  You can  probably put on a bit of make up at this point  and have the chance to take more regular showers! (Maybe you’re one of those super amazing mums and this never slipped…not me. I was in a haze at first and am certainly not as groomed now or as self-indulgent as I used to be.

For almost every parent the change in finances that a baby brings mean some things struggle to ever really get back on track. Two years after having my kids I had still not bought new clothes and I also hadn’t had my eyes checked. The first didn’t matter, who cares what you wear really. But the second did matter. Eye care s part of your health care. I was just a bit scared that my prescription would have changed and I would need to buy new glasses. The price of glasses was one I had never factored in to my budget.

I have worn glasses since I was tiny. Age 3 I had a pair of tiny pink NHS specs with a plaster over one eye because my eye wandered into the corner. This earned me the nickname Specky Becky and I used to hate them because I couldn’t see if it rained and they would steam up.  The plaster  worked really well and sorting out my eyesight when I was young led to it improving. Age 15 I had contact lenses and thought I was absolutely the bees knees.

Later I got some funky black glasses that I adored. I have had loads of different styles through the years.

Photo Credit: Misteraitch

This was fine until a few years ago when I started to get bad headaches. Really bad. I would take to my bed totally unable to function. After putting up with them for a while Ii went to see the doctor who sent me to have my eyes checked, I hadn’t been for 3 years precisely because with having young kids my budget had been allocated elsewhere. I had suffered for so long with the headaches though I was desperate for a solution.

The optician told me off for neglecting my eyes. My eye test showed quite a big change in my eye prescription which the optician believed had caused my headaches. I parted with some cash and reluctantly  got some new glasses.

The absolute relief. I could see more clearly ( all those new wrinkles!) and the headaches stopped. I was so much happier. No more days fighting off lurking headaches or days spent in bed feeling guilty.

I learnt a really valuable lesson thorough all of this. My  health IS always worth budgeting for. I need to be in tip top shape to take good care of my family and neglecting my needs may be good for the budget but is terrible for our life quality.

Mums and dads you matter too. Make sure you factor in your health care needs when you work out your money!

 

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Over to our lovely guest poster…Pippa

Hello! I’m Pippa and you might know me from A Mothers Ramblings, where I blog about all the great things my family and I get up to. Budgeting is a huge part of my life and I’ve been very lucky that my husband and I have worked out a way in our budget to put aside enough money each month for me to go to join a local Gym (and you can find out how I’m doing at Pippa World). And yet I know that not everybody is able to afford this and so here are nine ways that everyone can achieve fitness on a budget.

fitness on a budget

Buy a Fitness Videos or Fitness Computer Game

There are hundreds of DVD’s and Fitness promoting Computer games for sale in supermarkets, online, video shops and in charity shops too. Other people losing interest in getting fit is your gain, as it means you get to buy fitness videos or games at very little cost. Of course you can also borrow them from your local library. There might be a small fee but you can regularly swap between different DVD’s or games so that you don’t get bored. If you have Sky TV you can also watch Channel 282, aptly named the Fitness Channel and there are hundreds of tutorials on YouTube you can watch too. 

 Fitness on a budget

Photo Credit: Kevin Dooley

Go For A Walk

Walking is one of the easiest ways to exercise. It might be that you walk to the local shops, to the Supermarket or just take a long walk with your family at the weekend. I think that when you are unfit or not used to exercise that walking is one of the best activities because it is low impact and doesn’t require any equipment.

 

Pump Up Your Normal Routine

Since starting on this journey I’ve realised that there is a lot more that I can do in my normal daily routine to increase the amount of exercise I get. From cleaning the house at speed, marching on the spot whilst doing the dishes to parking further away from the entrance of a building I’m going to. The small additions make a big difference to my fitness.

 

Exercise With A Friend

It could be that you and a group of friends find a personal trainer willing to split the cost between you all, or that you swap DVD’s with each other or that you go out for a walk/jog/run together. Exercising with a friend means that you get some support and double up on the fun.

 

Play A Team Sport

It might be that you join the local Adult Netball Team, or Five a side Football, but when you are working out together as a team you don’t realise how hard you are working. It’s a great way to boost your fitness, your social life and it doesn’t cost a lot either.

 

There’s an App for that

There are so many free fitness apps for the various types of phones. I’m on a few of them (My FitnessPal and Endmondo are my favourite), and they are a great way to see how far you are moving, how quickly and how many calories you are burning too. The great thing about some of the apps is that you can friend people in your local area who have similar goals, use routes that others have planned and get support from friends all over the world.

 

Use What You Have

Instead of spending out a small fortune on buying some equipment, use what you already have. Run up and down the stairs, use cans of food or bottles of water as weights, use children as weights to keep your feet still whilst you do sit ups. It might be that you already have some “proper” fitness equipment such as a skipping rope, a bike or a pedometer so make sure you use those too.

 

Fitness Trails and Outdoor Gyms

Here in Milton Keynes we are rather spoilt with outdoor gyms, there are three that I know of and I’m sure that there are a lot more across the country hidden away in parks and green spaces. Find one local to you and make use of it! Similarly if there are any walks near you, you might find that there are also Fitness Trails or Trim Trails that you can make use of. The great thing about outdoor gyms or trails is you can take your whole family with you and everyone can enjoy a work out.

 

Play With Your Family

Running around after family members might not seem like a workout, but going to a green space (even the back garden) and playing tag for half an hour or kicking a football about counts as exercise (as long as you are moving!) and is great fun too. My children love the new active me and I love that we are all being active together.

 

I hope that some of these suggestions have inspired you to get more active and that you enjoy it as much as I am!

 

 

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With the financial year coming to a close, it’s time to give your finances a makeover. If you have debts accumulating and your credit score is low, you can still use basic banking to organise the money you already have in order to get back on track.

Follow this five step plan to overhaul your finances and get back in control – it may be easier than you think.

pocket money

1. Create a budget

Work out how much you spend on fixed monthly outgoings and how much goes on variable items. You can then examine your variable spending habits and make necessary changes. The key is to create a budget that is reasonable which you feel you can stick to, then prepare in advance for expensive months that could involve birthdays or holidays.

 

2. Ditch the credit cards

Having many credit cards can mean multiple debts that are easy to lose track of. Stop using them as soon as possible and then focus on paying off one credit card at a time, starting with the one with the highest interest rate. Once one card is paid off, move on to the next. Reduce your amount of cards to one or two to break the cycle.

 

3. Open a basic bank account

Basic bank accounts are available to those even with very low credit scores. It’s a great idea to look for one that has a prepaid credit card scheme. These allow you to divide up your finances into essential monthly outgoings that you keep in your account, and money for variable outgoings that you put onto the prepaid credit card. This organises your money so that variable spending does not eat into your fixed monthly amounts, meaning you will always be able to afford your bills and rent.

 

4. Start paying all bills on time

If you pay your bills as soon as you receive them, there is no danger of forgetting about them or incurring late payment penalties. Swift bill payments will improve your credit score and allow you get a better feel for what your monthly outgoings are going to be.

 

5. Stop taking out loans

Loans can have secret high interest rates that can cause more debt. If you find that the money you already have simply isn’t enough to cover living costs, then it is time to consider secondary sources of income rather than resorting to borrowing.

 

These five simple steps are sure to get you back in control of your finances this spring. You’ll soon find that being sensible with your money really pays off!

This ia guest post from our Sponsors

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Restocking your wardrobe with maternity clothes when you become pregnant doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Now that high street stores produce their own in-house maternity collections maternity wear has become more affordable and a lot more stylish. Plus thanks to clever designs and plenty of creativity, maternity clothing can now be worn from the first signs of a bump right through to the day you give birth.

You don’t need to completely overhaul your wardrobe. Many of your current clothes will work through most of your pregnancy, so you can get away with just a few essential items of maternity wear, which will mean your bank balance won’t feel such a dent. Here are our top maternity picks; for more maternity clothing check out New Look online.

Jeggings

Skinny jeans are what most women live in these days, but as you start to expand you may find yourself struggling to get into your old tried and tested pair. Instead of ditching your skinny jeans altogether and opting for frumpy joggers or baggy trousers, show off your bump in a pair of jeggings. They look just like a pair of skinny jeans but have a lot more give and will expand with you and your bump. This season go for pastel coloured and patterned pairs. New Look has a great pair of coloured maternity jeans. They come in red or electric blue and are a complete bargain at just £12.99 a pair.

Stretchy T-shirt

Don’t hide your bump; show it off. When you’re pregnant you are at your most feminine, so don’t hide under masculine, loose fitting shirts and ill-fitting tops. Get a stretch t-shirt or top, preferably in a pastel colour of nautical stripe, to work this season’s latest trends and show the world you are proud to be pregnant. We like New Looks’ Maternity Flecked T-Shirt in light pink or the Maternity Stripey Ruched Top with a blue and white stripe.

Maxi dress

Maxi dresses are comfortable, stylish and on-trend this summer. They are great for pregnant mums as they show off your bump without being too clingy. They are great in hot weather too as the long length and flowing fabric helps to keep you cool. This season look for tropical shades of turquoise, green and yellow. We love New Look’s Heavenly Bump Strapless Maxi Dress in turquoise (pictured). Nicole Richie was a big fan of maxi dresses when she was pregnant. She looks great here on Zimbio in a softly patterned, warm coloured maxi.

Heavenly bump strapless maxi

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Hi, what’s your name?

Nicki Cawood

 

Any kids?

2 – Kieran is 5years and just finishing his first year at school (GAH!) and Taylor is a cheeky 7.5m old.

Do you work? FT/PT? Full time from home

Why do you work? Both to contribute to the household and because I want to! I am a Mum and I love it but I’m also me, and “me” needs to be kept busy and out of trouble!

What are your child care arrangements?

Working from home I don’t need paid childcare (luckily!). Kieran is at school Monday-Fri and my (fantastic) Mum has Taylor one day a week so I can really crack on. Taylor is a very laid back child and I work around mealtimes, playtimes and walks etc but a full uninterrupted day is great for catching up!

How do you manage for money?

I budget strictly and weigh up purchases properly. Being aware of our budget means we can live within it and we try and make sure we put a bit away each month for those rainier than usual times.

Do  you worry about money?

Who doesn’t!? Prices seem to be going up monthly, as do our other expenses; our income doesn’t seem to rise in the same fashion! I think a certain level of worry or apprehension about overspending is good (certainly for me) as it keeps you on your toes and stops you being complacent.

What do you waste money on? I’m not sure we do! Things we spend on the kids I’d never consider a waste, and our food (which is the thing that seems to cost the most!) is within budget although I suppose I could cull the grocery spend some but I love to cook and experiment with new ingredients!

Have you made any big financial changes since having kids?

HUGE changes. In fact everything has changed. I went to my “back to work” interview after having Kieran, about a month before my maternity was due to end… and put my notice in. There was no plan, it just wasn’t going to work for us as a family and it wasn’t what I wanted to do. My salary disappeared like magic overnight so yes, lots of changes – not least in how we thought about spending and money in general.

How do you make extra cash? Being freelance I can usually take on extra work as and when required which helps in leaner months. I used to do a variety of thing from ebaying bits and pieces, doing surveys and what not, all of which helped, but to be honest I just don’t have the time nowadays.

Can you share 3 top budgeting tips for other parents?

  1. 1. KNOW your budget. Use a diary, a spread sheet, post it notes… whatever words for you. If you know you have £X  to spend on food then you are more likely to stick to that. If you have rough amounts and estimates it is easy to lose track.
  2. 2. Be realistic! The best budget is one that takes into account the things you really need and want over the month. You will never stick to your budget if it includes nothing but bills and food. What about the occasional treat and your entertainment? What about Christmas and birthdays? It all needs to be included. Your budget is helping you live your live within your means. The key word there is live!
  3. 3. Be savvy and shop around. Be it for your groceries or your utilities. Don’t assume you are always on the best plan for you. I review all my direct debits etc every six months and quite often I can shave a fair bit off some bills, not necessarily by moving suppliers but by changing plans. Use cashback sites such as Quidco when shopping online and comparisons from anything from car insurance to gifts. It doesn’t have to be difficult to save money!

Thanks so much for you answers Nicki.


Nicki Cawood Bio


Freelance writer and blogger (her own blog Curly&Candid is primarily a parenting blog but content includes anything from children to current affairs – and her candid opinion of them!) Based in North Yorkshire, Nicki is mum to two boys, Kieran 5yrs and Taylor 7m, wife to Roy and is a keen money-saver!

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 How to use the Sainsbury’s Finance Budget Calculator

The calculator takes you through four easy steps to help you understand where your money goes and how your spending compares to the national average.

We’ve used the information published by the government in the Family Spending Survey to calculate the average amounts that people spend on certain things. The survey is based on information provided by 6,000 UK households.

Step 1:

Get started by telling us a little bit about your household. Are you married? Living alone? Caring for children or elderly relatives? Retired? All of these things will have an impact on the kinds of things you spend your money on.

We will also ask you how much you earn because of course your income will also have a big influence on the amount that you spend on things.

Step 2:

Next tell us how much you spend on all the regular things such as food, fuel, transport and other things. We will use this information to compare what you spend with the average spent by other people in the same living situation and earning the same income as you.

Step 3:

Take a look at the amount you are spending on certain things in comparison with the amount that people like you spend on average. You might see some interesting differences.

Step 4:

Your results are available to download in a printable format. You can also find out more about the Family Spending Survey and read more from Sainsbury’s Finance about clever ways to make your money go further.

And don’t forget you can share the calculator with your friends and family using Facebook or Twitter.

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Whilst motorists and first time buyers may be happy the reality is most people are feeling the pich after a budget littered with cuts. The health in pregnancy grant is gone, Child trust funds have stopped, child benfit is to be  to be means tested  and the general cost of living seem to go up and up.

                                          Attribution: My photoshare blogspot

The Telegraph last week stated that this budget had caused the public to stress 40% more than normal (How is that assessed?). I discuss money worries a lot with my friends at the moment, jobs are being lost and people are really feeling it  . The article contains some cracking advice though which makes a lovely change from doom and gloom often found in financial editorial.

It cites Kevin Mountford from www.moneysupernarket.com who says

Stripping down living costs and household bills to the bare minimum will help consumers enjoy more disposable income, and will also help them save for the future.”

Mr Mountford pointed out that while there is nothing they can do about inflation or government cuts, by taking control of their finances, consumers can dramatically reduce the effects rising costs have on their household spending capacity.

He said: “Apathy in the current climate really can impact consumers’ wallets and by simply putting a few hours aside to review their finances it is possible to make some serious savings.”

I absolutley agree TIME can save money.  You should take the time to compare online all the bill payments you can, menu plan and don’t throw away food, take time to mend clothes, swap books with friends, have a car boot sale. You should take the TIME to shop for a bargain dont just buy from the high street and every so often do a tally of evertything you spend ina week and cut out the unnecessaries.

Focus on your finances and give them some energy, this bit at least is in our control and can make a BIG difference.


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reasons to be cheerful

I am budget cheerful this week because…

….. I was able to make my sons world book day outfit for school  of old clothes as he went as a scarecrow. We had plenty of old scraggy tops lying around and a battered straw hat. Other classes had much more complicated characters and I know a lot of money was spent. It’s a shame I think to have to spend on fancy dress for your child.

……I was able to spend lots of time reading books, telling stories, listening to online stories  and going to the library this week in the name of World Book Day all free and fabulous acttivities.

 …..I finally launched my ebook 50 ideas for sensational Spring fun on a budget with under fives and I hope I will save you lots of money this Spring with loads of low cost activity ideas.

See all good stuff for the budget!


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Valentines on a budget

We would all love to make a grand gesture on Valentine’s day and show our partners how much we love them. These days we often need to keep things simple and on budget whereas before we may have splurged. But, as always, there are ways and means.

Here are my top 5 valentine treats that just cost effort and creativity:

1. Gift your partner a treat day off – give them a little voucher entitling them to the following: A day to lie in and have breakfast in bed, no child care responsibilities, all the meals cooked and all the chores done and complete freedom to do as they please. I received this once and it was HEAVENLY.

2. Create a home spa for your other half. Run them a big scented hot bubbly bath and light around it with candles. Put their most favourite music on and make them a lovely snack tray. Heat the towels on the radio and lat out clean Pj’s for them. You could even offer to wash their hair for them. After help them moisturise, perhaps a little massage…

3. Time to walk together – ask a friend to trade you a baby sit so you and your partner can go for a walk hand in hand on Valentines day. Go somewhere lovely, feed the ducks, fly a kite or just be together and talk. 1-2 hrs will be plenty of time to reconnect and get your cheeks all pink. (You could always finish off with a little hot choc somewhere cosy.)

4. Organise a lovely romantic meal (at home). Make their most favourite meal and ban them from the kitchen so they have no idea. Wait till the children are in bed and set the table as if the Queen was coming! Best of everything, candles, music and chairs close together. You are aiming for seductive culinary delights!

5. Special cuddles for Valentines make everyone happy and don’t cost a thing. Look and smell your most ravishing and INSIST on an early night (together).

Happy Valentines Day everyone…. you don’t need money to make it magical (but DO get/make a card) or you may well be in BIG trouble x

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Budget Busting Tips to get your New Year off to a Great Start

If, like many of us, your bank account is looking more than a little empty this month, here are some great ideas from Antonia Chitty and Erica Douglas of www.becomeamumpreneur.com that any mum can put into practice to help the family budget.

You may be worried about how you can get a little bit more income right now. Perhaps there aren’t many jobs in your area, and the jobs that there are don’t fit in with the childcare that you have. Maybe you look at mums running businesses and think , “I’d love to do that but  I don’t have her skills, I don’t have a big idea and I have nothing to invest to get my business started.” If you’re in this position, it is time to forget everything you’ve been taught about work and earning money. 

If you’ve had enough of juggling childcare, having no spare cash, or feeling that you aren’t contributing financially then listen up because what we have to say could change your life.

There is a new way of earning that more and more mums are finding fits in with family life. Instead of relying on a single job, and then perhaps finding that their employer has to make cuts, mums in the know are developing ‘multiple streams of income’. Their earnings come in from several different routes.  Imagine this scenario.  Sharon who worked on the till at Woolie’s twenty hours a week also has a number of side incomes.  She has a parenting blog that earns her £300 a month in advertising.  She does some freelance writing for £150 per month.  Sharon has also just launched an eBook from a blog in a niche area which earns £75 a month.  Woolie’s went bust in the recession, but Sharon coped well. She cut back a bit but lives off her other incomes. She spent her free time creating that e-course which is now earning £300 a month and she invested her redundancy in another business opportunity which she hopes will be a big success. No matter which of Sharon’s incomes disappear she has others she can rely on, and it’s highly unlikely that all her incomes will dry up at the same time.

What does this mean for you?  You don’t need one big idea or lots of investment to become a mumpreneur.  You can do it bit by bit while still working full or part time.  If you’re a stay at home mum you can quietly work away on various things that could build into a full time income.

This is just the start, though. If what you’ve read sounds right up your street, Antonia and Erica have lots more to share with you about ways to earn that fit with the family. Join them, and hundreds of others mums on the journey to earn a full time income in part time hours. Get all the inside tips on the free e-course at www.becomeamumpreneur.com.

 Thank yuou Erica and Antonia!

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I haven’t not written about Halloween on a budget I just did it somewhere else becuase I was asked to and I like to share the budgeting love and because my blog is a bit chock full this month! Pop over here for some top tips of mine for a fab Halloween on a budget . 

I hope you have a spooktacular time! 

!

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Thanks to  Louise Plunkett from www.sweetpeaparties.com. Louise is a party expert!
Sweet Pea Parties are suppliers of  traditional party supplies, from party bags to bunting.She does parties the old fashioned way (all the photos are curtesy of sweetpea parties

The best way to throw a party on a budget is to do it in the 
traditional way. Traditional birthday parties used to consist of 
games, tea and cake, and there’s no reason why a traditional tea party 
can’t be just as much fun as its more expensive counterparts. Here’s 
my top five tips for throwing a party on a budget;

Tip one;

Have it at home! The idea of this may send many of us screaming for 
the hills, but it is the number one way to throw a party on a budget. 
Plus, if you economise on the venue you can maybe afford other things, 
such as an entertainer or a super duper cake!

Tip two;

Make your own food! Yes, in this busy world it can be one extra thing 
to add to the list, but the benefits are 2 fold. One you save money, 
and two, you don’t have a room full of children high on food 
additives! If you really wanted to cut down on waste, therefore saving 
more money, you could make up individual plates of food and cover with 
clingfilm prior to the party. There can be a lot of wasted food at 
parties as small children sometimes don’t eat very when excited. A 
good suggestion for a party meal would be 2-3 finger sandwiches per 
child, a handful of fruit (grapes, strawberries etc) a few mini 
breadsticks, and a pudding, such as a yoghurt or jelly

Tip three;

Forget the professional child entertainer and play old fashioned 
games. These cost nothing, at most you need a music player and some 
treats for the prizes. Some examples of popular games include;

Musical Chairs
Musical Bumps
Treasure Hunt
Pin The Tail On The Donkey (artistic types can draw their own donkeys!)

Don’t get too caught up in ‘entertaining’ the children though. More 
often than not they are just happy to play with their friends, so 
leave plenty of toys out.

Tip four:

Party Bags. Forget loot bags full of plastic that will end up the 
landfill a week later. There’s no need to spend a lot of money, keep 
the party bags simple. Party bags started off as a means for children 
to take a slice of cake home. One good toy, a wrapped slice of cake, 
plus a ‘thank you for coming to my party’ note in a pretty bag is more 
than sufficient and the parents will probably thank you too!

Tip five;

Keep the numbers down and keep it short. It can be tempting to invite 
the whole nursery or school class, but if your’e planning a party on  
a budget then you may not have entertainers or the large venue needed 
to do this Limit numbers to 8-10 children, enough children for lots of 
fun but not an unmanageable amount. One and a half hours is plenty for 
the 0-5 age group. Less children means less food, and less party bags, 
so you’ll save money!


Thanks Louise these are fab tips!

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