Category Archives: Money Saving

Frugal & Fun: A Review

I actually begged to review this ebook from Cass Bailey, Jen Walshaw and Becky Goddard-Hill, with an 11 week summer holiday stretching before me I was desperate to keep my 10 year old entertained while retaining a grasp on my sanity. Two weeks in to those holidays I’m pleased to say that so far my daughter has been kept entertained (and not threatened with remaining in her room for the duration of the holidays) and we’ve planned a whole host of other things to keeps her occupied, both when she’s with me and while she’s staying with her nan for a few weeks with the help of the ebook.

The ebook covers a whole host of planning ideas and activities to ensure that the summer holidays will go with a bang and not break the bank. It starts with a planning section with a suggested activity a day to make sure that you know exactly what is available in your area throughout the holidays and to ensure you have everything you need to hand to keep the kids entertained. Although I try to plan ahead I never quite seem to manage it so having it laid out before me in such an easy to follow way really helped me to get organised and research what was going on in the local area, as well as getting the house ready for the holidays – well as much as you can when you have a 6 month old flying about in a walker and destroying everything you do!

One of the first things we did was create a boredom jar, I won’t ruin what it is by telling you, but it is an absolutely brilliant idea. One I’d never have thought of and has proved invaluable in keeping my daughter occupied. We also did a wish book early on too and are gradually ticking things off our list that we have done – there’s even a separate one for when my daughter is staying with her nan!

Having an older daughter I let her read the ebook and pick out activities she wanted to do herself. So far she fancies making a patriotic cake, building a den (it seems no matter how old kids are they still want to build a den!), and trying out the rest of the recipes in the ebook. We’ve had a BBQ and made Smores for the 4th of July, have a Mexican themed meal she’s making tonight, tapas at the weekend and she helped make a Greek themed meal (her favourite period of history at school is the Greeks apparently) last week too. She also made a photo collage of herself, her friends and our family, which living so far away from them was a really nice thing for her to do and she’s even used her pocket money to turn them into proper posters using an online photo company. That is just the tip of the iceberg, we have so much more planned and certainly no reason to be bored over the coming weeks and if she is, that’s when the boredom jar will come in handy (did I tell you how much I LOVE that idea?).

There are so many ideas to keep children of all ages occupied within the Six sections of the ebook, which are:

The Olympics

The Great Outdoors

Around the World

Heroes and Heroines

Home Sweet Home

Colours

The ebook is currently selling on Amazon for £2.99 and it’s worth every penny! I’ve saved money by creating fun activities at home using things we already have, finding out about local free events, I’ve not killed my ten year old (yet) or resorted to cracking open the wine by 4pm (again, there’s still time for this of course – I’m only human after all!)  and above all we’ve been having loads of fun. You can also find more ideas on the website Frugal & Fun which will be added to throughout the summer.

Please note I was provided with a copy of this ebook for the purpose of the review. For further information regarding my disclosure policy please click on the Disclosure tab above.

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>How to save money in the school summer holidays

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School holidays are often a challenge for parents, how do you keep the children occupied while not breaking the bank? Here are a few quick tips to help you make significant savings:

  • Access the “What’s on” page of your local council’s website for free or reduced cost activities
  • Check websites with what’s on pages for your local area, such as www.visitkent.co.uk for an up to date list of activities in your area
  • Visit parenting sites and check out their what’s on pages, you will often find activities on there that aren’t widely advertised but are just as good as any large events
  • Check you local paper for details of activities in your area
  • Visit moneysavingexpert.com for up to date voucher codes on meals out, shopping, days out and much more
  • Tesco’s run free football skills sessions in association with the FA, for 5 – 11 year olds during school holidays. To find your nearest venue and to book visit http://www.fa-tesco-skills.co.uk/signup/step-1
  • Kids play tennis for free, with free coaching sessions through “Tennis for Free” check online at http://www.tennisforfree.com/courts.php to see if there is a court near you.
  • Kids can play sports for free with Asda’s Sporting Challenge during school holidays, for a variety of activities in your local area click here http://www.asda-sportingchance.co.uk/
  • Under 16’s swim for free. Click the link to check if your local authority is participating in the scheme: http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http://www.culture.gov.uk/what_we_do/sport/5810.aspx
  • Search the Enjoy England website for 2 for 1, kids go free and lots of other offers http://www.enjoyengland.com/ideas/special-offers/index.aspx
  • Take a trip to the cinema, both Vue and Cineworld run heavily discounted viewings from 95p to £1 at weekends and on weekdays during school holidays. Check with your local cinema to see which film they are showing.
  • Make the most of your loyalty cards, numerous schemes including Tesco offer a discount on days out when you book through them or present your card
  • Go to the park for a go on the swings or a change of scene
  • If you do decide on a day out make sure you take advantage of any offers for family tickets rather than paying full price for each member of the family and avoid spending on food which is often expensive, take a picnic with you or eat before you arrive, saving your money for an ice cream instead.

Staying in with the children can be equally as expensive over the holidays, especially if the weather lets us down, here’s some tips to make the most of your time at home at very little cost:

  • Print off some colouring in pages for your children to use, simply type “free colouring pages” into google and you will have a wealth of colouring pages to keep your children occupied for hours.
  • Bake some cakes or biscuits, either from scratch or using a kit from the supermarket. You can often get 2 for 1’s or 2 for a £1 on many cake mixes. Even the supermarkets own reduced price range can be jazzed up with a few sprinkles!
  • Using old magazines, birthday cards etc, make a collage.
  • Get the paints out and let the children go wild creating a master piece!
  • Have a picnic, either in the garden, or on a blanket inside.
  • Buy a pizza kit from the supermarket and let the kids get messy making the dough and choosing their toppings.
  • Have a themed day, taking inspiration from another country or a favourite book or film and theme activities around that, for example you could choose Spain and get the children to learn a few very basic words in spanish, do a flamenco dance, look at pictures of the country and draw a flag, have a tapas style picnic for lunch and make paella for dinner. (And mum and dad could have a well deserved Sangria once the kids are in bed) This is a fantastic idea taken from The Diary of a Frugal Family who has regular themed days for her children which they love!
  • Plant some seeds in the garden, whether you fancy some tomato plants, sunflowers or herbs, the children will love getting messy and are more likely to try new foods if they have had a hand in growing them.
  • Have a water fight if the weather is on your side
  • For some great activity ideas on a variety of subjects, take inspiration from the list of things covered in order to get a Brownie badge, see here, you’ll find things such as making a bird feeder, making a book mark, juggling, crafting and much more

Last but not least, have fun!

>Meal Planning

>I’ve got a bit slack at this meal planning business of late and as I am having to fork out for a new part for my car tomorrow I thought it was the perfect opportunity to save money food wise and use up what I already have in the cupboards and freezer rather than spending more money on yet more food!

Monday

Lunch – Beef sandwich (left overs from tonight’s mothers day meal)

Dinner – Chicken chasseur (provided by my mum) and left over roasted veg from tonight’s mothers day meal

Tuesday

Lunch – Ham sandwich

Dinner – Frikadeller (Scandinavian meatballs) with rich gravy and mash

Wednesday

Lunch – Pasta with pesto and chorizo

Dinner – Soup

Thursday

Lunch – Pasta with pesto and chorizo

Dinner – Stuffed jacket potatoes

Friday

Lunch – Ham sandwich

Dinner – Spaghetti bolognaise

Saturday

Lunch – Bacon sandwich

Dinner – Beef and chorizo chilli stew

Sunday

Lunch – Bacon sandwich

Dinner – Soup

Quite boring really and a lot of soup! But I am determined to keep my calories and my spending down this week and hopefully it will pay off. I don’t hold out much hope of losing weight again this week, I seem to have stayed the same again, although that’s because I need to get back on the wii fit and do some exercise – have only done it once since returning from Spain almost 2 weeks ago which is terribly lazy of me!

>Cash for your mobile

>As I’m supposed to be getting a new mobile contract in April (although I may go for a pay as you go until I know if we’re upping sticks to Gib/Spain) I’ve been looking at the cost of selling my mobile on one of these sites that give you cash for your old mobiles.

The one that sprang to mind was Envirofone as that’s often advertised on tv, but then I came across MobileValuer.com from Martin Lewis at Money Saving Expert.

All you do is enter whether your phone is in full working order or not and then the make and model and it lists what several companies will offer either in cash or vouchers for various stores. Apparently for my Samsung Pixon I can get £65 from a company called Mopay and £60.10 for my Nokia N73 from a company called Love2Recycle.

So that’s over £120 for doing absolutely nothing, other than posting my phones to the company in question! Can’t be bad!

>Cheap days out with the kids

>I’m always looking for things to do with E and although we have the odd baking day, this can prove hazardous when dieting so I’ve been looking for things to do that don’t involve me eating! (Yes, I know I could exercise some self control and not eat what we make, but that’s never gonna happen!)

I stumbled across a few things that might come in handy:

£1 bowling per person at Hollywood Bowl. E and I have never been bowling together, so maybe this one is a good one to try. The normal price of bowling is £4.45 so you save £3.45 per person, which seems like a pretty good deal to me. All you have to do is sign up to their newsletter here and the voucher will be sent to you, along with any other offers they have in future.

Kidsam at Vue Cinemas. I haven’t taken E to the cinema for ages so this one is another good one to try! Vue are offering screenings of kids films on Saturday and Sunday mornings for just 95p a ticket for both adults and children. So instead of paying £4.30 for E and £6.10 for me to see a film, which is £10.40, all I will pay is £1.90 – a massive saving of £8.50!!! The only thing is with this deal is that the films aren’t the latest releases but they’re changed regularly. This week it’s Mall Cop, the week of the 23rd and 24th it’s G-Force, Ice Age 3 is 30th and 31st January, Cloudy with a chance of meatballs is on 6th and 7th February and Planet 51 is on the 12th and 13th. I quite fancy G-Force myself!


Cineworld are also offering a similar deal under their Movies for Juniors deal. This is available on Saturday mornings only, although Bolton, Liverpool, Wandsworth and Falkirk offer Sunday mornings too. It’s £1 per person so again E and I would save a packet if we don’t mind not seeing the latest releases. Currently showing are Fantastic Mr Fox, Up and Cloudy with a chance of meatballs.

I’ve also got free tickets to Farming World in Faversham and Hever Castle which I have to use up so it looks like we’ll be having an action packed, yet cheap few months ahead of us.