Category Archives: Thrifty Tips

How Will The New Budget Impact on Families?


Yesterday the chancellor announced the 2016 Spring budget. They main changes which will affect families are changes in education.

Here are the main points:

All schools to become academies by 2022. This mean they will be independent, state funded schools. They will no longer receive their funding from a local authority but from central government. The head teacher will be responsible for the day to day running of the school and will overseen by academy trusts.

End of the 3.30pm bell. The government want Secondary schools to bid for extra funding to run after school classes in sport, art etc. There will be a fund of £285m to cover this.

A sugar tax on fizzy and high sugar drinks will be introduced in 2018 and will add 24p to a litre. This will raise £520m a year which will be spent on funding for sports in primary schools. The government hope that this will have an impact on childhood obesity.

The 40% threshold tax rate will rise from £42,385 to £45,000 in April 2017.

The Tax Free Personal Allowance will rise to £11,500 in April 2017.

Insurance premiums (house, car etc) will rise from 9.5% to 10%.

NI Class 2 contributions are to be abolished. Good news for some self-employed parents.

The Fuel duty is to be frozen for the 6 year.

Duty on beer, cider and spirits are to be frozen but will rise on wine and other alcohol.

ISA limit is rising from £15,240 a year to £20,000. Which means you can save you can save up to £20,000 a year tax free.

The government are introducing two new saving schemes:

  1. Flexible Lifetime ISA – This is for under 40’s and they can save up to 4,000 a year to be used to but a first home or retirement up to the age of 50. The government will give them a 25% bonus  each year.

  2. Help to Save Scheme – This is for low earners. They will get a 50% bonus for every month they save £50. You could receive up to £1,200 over 4 years.

You can use this calculator to see how the budget will affect you and your family.

5 Ways to Switch and Save

We are two months in to the New Year and let’s face it with the energy bills and Christmas not long over money can be a little tight, especially with half term around the corner.

We have a few ideas how you can switch and save money.

Switch Energy Suppliers


When was the last time you switch energy suppliers? On average you could save £301!

There are many sites you can use to compare energy tariffs and it’s really easy to switch.




Go Compare

Compare The Market

Just fill in your details and see what the best offer for your home is.

Switch Your Lightbulbs

Have you switched your light bulbs yet? Have you switched them to LED bulbs? LED cost a fraction of the price to run and last for years. Depending on the wattage you use and how many you have, you save hundred each year. They are more expensive but will pay for themselves very quickly. You could replace them slowly.

To work out how much you could save fill in the form at London Electric Design.

Switch Supermarket


If you haven’t converted to one of the discounter supermarkets you may want to consider giving Aldi or Lidl a try. There prices are much lower and the quality is really good, you can save quite a bit from your weekly shop.

Switch from Branded to Shop Own

If you are loyal to your supermarket then try switching from branded to shop own products or even giving some of the basic/everyday brands a try. We now use Sainsbury’s basic pasta as its only 33p a bag and tastes just like their standard pasta. Try something new each week, you’ll be surprised but what you will like and save.

Switch TV Supplier


It’s great to have a choice when you watch TV but Sky TV or Virgin Media is really expensive. We realised that we weren’t really watching many of the Sky channels and actually watched the freeview channels the most.  There were a few sky channels we couldn’t live without so we switched to NowTV so we still have Sky1, Sky Living etc. We also get all the sky boxsets and catch up TV and the entertainment package is £6.99 a month and you cancel anytime. We also have the movies for £8.99 a month and we get all the live sky movie channels and movies on demand.

We invested in a recordable freesat box and we save £168 a year and we only had the basic Sky package.

If you are not bothered about the sky channels then try Netflix or Amazon Prime for your boxset fixes. We also use the iplayer a lot, including the children who can watch their favourite programmes on demand.

What have you switched that saved you money?

5 Ways to Switch and Save

40 Ideas, Tips and Tricks for a Great Summer Holiday

40 Ideas, Tips and Tricks for a Great

The summer holidays are just around the corner and like many of us you are faced with trying to keep your child entertained for 6 whole weeks. While older children can often entertain themselves the younger ones are not always that easy to please.

We have some great ideas, tips and tricks to get you through the holidays with a smile of your face.

Keeping Them Entertained

Have a plan of action for each week. Possible days out, play dates, activities etc  Mum in The Madhouse has some great free printable planners on the blog. Perfect for working parents that need to plan childcare through the holidays as well.


Don’t make plans. Make a daily decision on what you are going to do. Wing it and see where you end up.

The worst sentence ever muttered by a child is “I’m bored”, it can drive you insane. Be prepared and get a bored jar ready before the holidays start. All you need to do is fill a jar or box with activities for them to do like read a book, crafts, watch a film, go for a walk, tidy your room, make a den etc When they tell you they are bored get them to choose an activity to do.

Get them to make a summer bucket list and list all the things they would like to do in the summer holidays and then choose one each day.

Start a summer scrap/happy book.  Have your child write, draw, glue on pictures of their summer adventures. A great rainy day activity.

Go on a park crawl. Make a list of all the parks in your area and visit them all. You could either do it in one day or spread it across the 6 weeks.

Go on lots and lots of picnics.

Have a sports day. Invite their friends over and have a sports day in the garden.

Arrange some playdates.  Take turns with friends to host a play date, the kids can play and you can site, drink coffee and have adult conversation.

Set up different play stations in your garden. You could have sand & water, a shop, kitchen, balls & hula hoops, trikes & scooters, crafts, reading corner etc that way they can flit between each station and not get bored.

Bake cakes! Who doesn’t like cakes? If baking isn’t your thing but plain fairy cakes or biscuits and let your children decorate them.

Make your own ice lollies. Make them in the morning and they should be ready by lunch time. Experiment with frozen smoothies or fresh juice lollies.

These Strawberry and Banana Smoothie lollies by A Mummy Too look great.


Psst mums here are ones just for you, Cucumber Gin & Tonic Popsicles by Port and Fin.


All the crafts. If in doubt get the craft box out and let them get messy. Perfect for those too hot to play in the garden days.  You could set a theme for the summer and make items for an art show at the end of the holidays.

Build a den. In the garden, in the woods or in your living room.

Invent your own games.

Put on a show. Invite family and friends over for a show, get the children to sing, dance, tell jokes or do magic tricks.

Go to the seaside, eat doughnuts, build sandcastles and play to 2p machines.


Go to the Zoo.

Go swimming.

Go to a theme park.

Visit a museum.

Go on a train ride. Choose a destination and have an adventure.

Go the cinema.

Have a home cinema afternoon. Make popcorn, snuggle up and chill out.
Go to the theatre. Check out your local theatre for children shows.

Top Tips and Money Saving Ideas

Have a garden box/trug/bag ready to go.  Fill it with wipes, sun lotion, towel, hats, tablecloth etc and have it by the back door. All you need to do it grab drinks and snacks to throw in and off you go into the garden. It saves you running around looking for everything you need and you can just get outside and have fun. It’s especially good if you have very young children that you don’t want to leave on their own while you keep going back indoors for things.

Have a car bag ready to go. Similar to above we have a bag in the back of the car with wipes, nappies, sun lotions, sun hats, a towel, first aid kit and bucket and spades. It means we only have to grab a few things before go out for the day.
Make sun care a part of your daily routine. We out on sun lotion every morning before we get dressed so we are protected before we leave the house.

When going on a picnic, pack everyone their own pack lunch rather than one big bag of food. That way you will have leftovers which go floppy by the time you get home.

Take your own food on days out. It can cost quite a bit to eat out at theme parks etc

Take your own drink when you go out. Costs of drinks can add up.

If you are out and fancy an ice-cream, visit the local supermarket and buy a multi pack it will be much cheaper.
Check for any offers and voucher codes before you go out for family meals.  Try sites like my voucher codes, voucher codes and Money Saving Expert.

Book online and in advance at theme parks, zoos farms etc they often have a good online discount.

Use your supermarket points. Tesco and Nectar points can often be used for money off tickets.

Find free events. There are loads out there you just have to look for them. Many museums have free entry as well. Have a little search and see what you can find.

Take part in the Summer Reading Challenge at your local library.  It’s free, fun and gives you a regular day out during the holidays.

Sign up for the 10 minute Shake Up from Change For Life. It’s full of activities, stickers and a free wrist timer.


Watch films for free by setting up a trial with Netfilx, NowTV or Amazon Prime just remember to set a reminder to cancel if you don’t want to carry on.

Ditch the car and stay local for the summer. You’ll get fit and save money on petrol.

What are your top tips for a great summer?

Follow Wendy’s board Summer 2015 on Pinterest.

Thrifty Tips: Cashback Sites

Cashback Sites (1)Cashback sites are a great way to get money back from your online shopping and it’s so simple to do.

All you have to do is sign up with a Cashback site, and then every time you buy something online check to see if the site is a partner of the Cashback site and click through to the desired site through them and earn Cashback on your purchases.

It could be worth over £200 a year using Cashback sites plus many of them also have coupons and voucher codes which are an added bonus.

There are a few sites you can choose from; my advice would be stick to one as most won’t pay any money out until you have earned a certain amount.  Have a look through the list below and look who they are partnered with and what site would be more beneficial for you and your family.

Cashback Kings

Mirror Cashback



Kid Start  is Cashback site with a difference as you the money you get back goes into  your child’s bank account or Childs Trust Fund, so you save for them as your spend.

Whatever one you choose make sure it’s right for you.

You can find a Cashback-Site Maximiser on Money Saving Expert, which compares the Cashback sites for you. However it would mean using different sites each time which means money all over the place, personally I prefer it to be in one place but that’s just me.

Do check out these sites and see how much you could earn back.

Thrifty Festival: Getting Ready For Autumn

Thrifty Festival

The Thrifty Festival had a nice summer holiday and now its back ready to help you be a little bit more thrifty.

Autumn is on its way so we thought we would kick off with a Autumn themed festival.

As the weather gets cooler and wetter it gets harder to keep the children entertained. Anna at In The Playroom as the perfect thrifty activity for you. Check out her post with 11 Recycled Junk Modelling Crafts.

11 recycled / upcycled crafts for kids. I love Junkmodelling - what cool ideas, and a great way to reuse old materials!

Everyone likes flowers and these are perfect to brighten up a room when its a bit grey outside. They also make great gifts and if you choose right and arrange them yourself they won’t cost the earth. Ellie at Family Style has this great little tutorial on how to make a Beautiful Boutique Florist Style Flowers on a Budget

As the weather gets colder you may find yourself using the car more and that means more fuel. A Thrifty Mum has 10 top tips on saving money on fuel.

Liz over at Me and My Shadow took part in Zero Waste week and her goal was to minimize lunch box packaging. She did a great job and her post is packed for of tips on how to minimize packaging and save money!

The Diary of a Frugal Family have the ultimate list of  70 Frugal and Fun Autumn Activities to do with the kids.

70 frugal and fun things to do with your family.

Looking for ways to use up those leftovers? Try our Chicken, Bacon & Mushroom Pasta Bake. 

Love Your Leftovers Recipe

Half term will be upon us soon we have some great ideas for having a great autumn half term on a budget. 

Lastly we have some great ways to save money this autumn

 Ways to Save Money This Autumn

Now its your turn. Share your Thrifty posts with us to read and share.

There is also a Pinterest Group board if you would like to be added please let us know and of course feel free to grab a badge.

Love Your Leftovers Recipe: Chicken, Bacon & Mushroom Pasta Bake

Love Your Leftovers Recipe

This is a firm favourite in my house. It’s so easy to make and you can make ahead of time and just pop in the oven when you are ready to eat it.

I purposely buy a large chicken so we can get two meals of it. The recipe is great as you don’t need a lot of chicken; I normally have one leg and thigh left and some breast.



125g Bacon Lardons

125g Sliced Chestnut Mushroom

Up to a tablespoon of olive oil

1 Medium Carrot (grated)

200g of cooked chicken cut into chunks

500g Passata

Pinch of dried mixed herbs

4 Pellets of Frozen Spinach

250g Pasta

One Ball of Mozzarella (Sliced)

To Make

If you are going assemble and bake straight away pre heat the oven to 200, 180 fan or gas equivalent

Heat a large frying and then add the bacon lardons.  Frying until browned. If you find the lardons sticking to the pan add a drop of oil to stop them burning.

Add the mushrooms to the bacon lardons and cooked for 5 minutes. You will find the mushrooms stick to pan slightly to start with so add a little oil to stop this.

Add the grated carrot and cooked for a further 5 mins, giving it a good few stirs.

Next add the chicken and stir through.

Pour in the passata and add the mixed herbs and bring to a boil.

Turn it down to a simmer and add in the spinach pellets.

Leave to simmer for 10 minutes. Stirring occasionally

While the sauce is simmering cook the pasta as per the instructions on the pack.

Once the pasta is cooked take out about ½ a cup of the cooking liquid and then drain. Put the pasta into a large baking dish.

Pour over the chicken and sauce and mix until the pasta is fully coated. Add a little of the pasta water if the sauce is too thick.

Lay the pieces of mozzarella of the top of the pasta bake and cook for 10-15 mins or until the mozzarella is golden and bubbling.

If you are going to cook it later don’t add the cheese until its ready to go in the oven. Pre-heat the oven to 180 or 160 fan and cooked for 25 – 3 minutes.

I serve this with a side salad and ciabatta bread.

Checken pasta bake

Depending on what veg I have in, sometimes I add sweetcorn or you could add peppers or tomatoes. It’s up to you; it’s quite an adaptable recipe.

Don’t be put off by the spinach, its gives the sauce a richness and doesn’t taste spinachy.

Go on give it a go!

Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.comLink up your recipe of the week

5 Ways to Save This Summer Holidays

5 Ways To Save This Summer

The kids are off school and they are bored and want to go out which means spending money. Summer can be an expensive time so here is some tips on how to save this summer.

Take Your Own Food

Food can be one of the most expensive parts of a family day trip so take your own. Pack a picnic and save those pennies (or pounds). Don’t go overboard with food as you could end up overspending. Pack each person their own pack lunch, get them to help so you pack what they like and there is no waste.

Leftovers are great for picnics, pasta, rice, chicken and potatoes can be eaten cold. We rather like cold lasagne!

Take Your Own Drinks

Bottles and cartons can be so expensive to buy especially if you are a larger family.  Pack your own drinks; pop them in the freezer the night before so they are extra cold. By the time you get to your destination they would have melted.

Check the venue you are going many have drinking water points where you can refill your drinks.

Buy Your Tickets Online

You can save up to 54% at some theme parks buy buying your tickets online. Always check before you go to see what offers they are running.

Check out our guide to the best offers this summer.

Free Events

Have a search for free local events. Checkout your local council website they should have a list of events.

Coca Cola are running Park Lives Events in Newcastle, Birmingham and the London Borough of Newham. Take part in these free activities including buggy fit, tai chi, bowling taster, Futsal, football and family fitness.

Embrace Second Hand

Keep your children entertained by embracing the charity shop. They are a treasure trove of toys, books and DVD’s. Give them £1 a see what they can get. They will love the challenge and will have something new to play with.

5 Ways to Save Money This Spring

5 ways to Save Money This Spring

The summer holidays will soon be upon us and we all want to save some pennies for that.  We still have a half term to go and we know that can often be costly.

We have some tips that will help you spend less and save more so you can get out and do the things you want this summer.

Cut Up Your Food

This may sound like a strange one but I have found recently that by cutting up my meat I can make it go further.

As a family of four a packet of eight sausages doesn’t go far if you have whole sausages each but I now cut them in half and make mini toad in the holes or slice and use in pasta dishes.

Instead of using a whole chicken breast each, this is very expensive. I now look recipes that use slice and diced chicken I can make two breasts feed the whole family.

Eat Seasonally

There is a reason why strawberries are expensive in January they are not in season and have to be imported. This is the same for most fruit and veg.  Buy varieties that are in season and you will find that the prices are much more reasonable.

Visit your local greengrocer or market and ask them what’s in season it will taste better as well.

You can also visit

Get Walking

Now the weather is getting nice ditch the car and walk. Not only will be saving money on fuel but you will get fitter!

Love Your Library

We would never tell you to stop reading but try to use the library more and cut down on your book buying for a few months. If you are a book worm you could be spending a small fortune on books each month. Save what you what have spent on a day out in the summer.

Get It On The Line

Your washing that is. Turn off the heating and tumble dryer and on dry days get that washing on the line. It will smell lovely and you will save on your energy bills.

Got a great tip? Leave it below.

Thrifty Tips: How to Save on Your Heating Bills

Its February, its still cold and those heating bills are just going up and up.

Here are a few tips to help you save on your heating bills.

Block Drafts

Can you feel a draft? If cold air is getting in then hot air is getting out and that is costing you money. Check you windows and doors for drafts and block them up. You can get draft excluder’s for your doors and foam strips for your windows.

Also check floor boards, pipes and key holes. You could save up to £50 a year by blocking up those drafts.

Turn It Down

Does your heating need to be as high as it is?

You could save £75 a year but turning your thermostat down by 1 degree.


Have your heating on a timer so it comes on for a little while in the morning and again in the evening. If you are going away turn it off or if you are worried about frozen pipe turn the thermostat down to the lowest temperature.

If you put the heating on during the day set a timer for 30 mins, your house should have warmed up nicely by then.

Turn it Off

Have a spare room that you don’t use regulars turn the radiator off in that room. No use heating a room that is not being used.

Do you have any tips to share?




Thrifty Festival {2}

TF Large

Its Thursday which means it must be time for the Thrifty Festival. We have two great posts linked up last week.

Baby Budgeting shared Simple and Savvy Money Saving Tips #1 

Baby Budgeting

Over at Family Budgeting there are Simple,Thrifty and Easy Makes for Valentines. They are lovely ideas.

loveletters, easy makes for valentines

Here are some of favourite Thrifty posts from the last week:

Frugal Family are talking Money Makeovers and this week its all about energy saving.

We are loving Me and My Shadow Magpie Monday find

If you are looking for thrifty meals then check out Utterly Scrummy’s Spicy Seven Vegetable Stew

Now its your turn. Share your Thrifty posts with us to read and share.

There is also a Pinterest Group board if you would like to be added please let us know and of course feel free to grab a badge.