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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