Blog : Little Lilypad Co

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The Little Lilypad is a lifestyle blog mostly written by a mum to two beautiful, cheeky and entertaining daughters. It is sometimes written by the Man on the Pad, when he is not relaxing in one of our best recliners, or our baby bloggers and occasionally we accept guest posts. There is frequently talk of shoes and clothing (we love fashion and savvy shopping), chocolate (who doesn't love chocolate) education and swimming (we love this too). It is hopefully helpful, sometimes funny and always honest.

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Category: Life Cheats

  1. 5 Ways to Buy Childrens Birthday Party Gifts That Won't Break The Bank

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    I have a daughter in reception at school, which utlimately means a seemingly endless round of parties. Every. Single. Weekend. 

    There is a running joke amongst our friends that I go to every event I am invited to because I love to socialise and I have the feeling that I have passed this onto my daughters too. As a result there is never any question as to whether or not they will be going to the superhero / swimming / farm / soft play *delete as applicable* party each weekend. On a personal level, I love that they are socialising with their friends and not watching other children playing on Youtube but weekly birthday parties can get expensive, so here are my top tips on not letting it get out of control.

    5 Ways to Buy Childrens Birthday Party Gifts That Wont Break Your Budget

    1. Be organised. Yes I know this is an age old piece of advice but it is true. There is nothing more stressful (and usually expensive) than trying to find the "right" present the day before a birthday party.

    2. Don't spend money on expensive character based wrapping paper. Get a gift bag from the poundshop (they usually have the more popular characters on anyway) and cover with tissue paper. Kids do not care how much the wrapping paper cost. AND THEY RIP IT UP ANYWAY!! Cheap paper is definitely the way to go as it is easier to rip up!

    3. Buy in the sales. I do this ALOT! When there are sales on, I tend to stock up on age appropriate gifts or buy presents that would normally be more than my budget but it means that the recipiant gets a more expensive gift and I have stayed within the budget. Only this week I have ordered some gorgeous baby gifts in the Joules sale because I am quite sure that the new born babies are not going to care whether the design was last seasons and mum gets great quality bibs and clothes.

    4. Use delivery passes or click and collect. Being able to shop online means that you can check which stores have the best prices but sometimes the delivery charges can offset the savings. It is worth checking which stores have delivery pass options if it is somewhere you shop often or seeing if there is a free click and collect option. 

    5. Sign up to newsletters for your favourite stores. I know that this is the equivalent of junk mail circa 1995 but many outlets send out discount codes, free delivery passes or first notifications of the sale to their subscribers. Well worth it when you are buying for half the class!

    Do you have any other top tips?

     

    As always on a Friday I’m linking up with CassEmma and Becky  in this week’s ‘Five Fabulously Frugal things I’ve done this week linky

     

  2. Five Frugal Things I've Done This Week

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    This week has been a little bit unusual and with everyone focusing on the election, it seems that there has been little time to think about anything else but I have still tried to focus on being savvy. My husband has what we will call a "project car" and said car appears to be more of an expensive project than originally anticipated, so my desire to become more frugal is currently being offset by the car but we shall gloss over that small detail for now and concentrate on the good things!

    Emma from Emmas Savvy Savings always talks about her Marks and Spencer bargains and I have to include them in my five frugal things I've done this week post! Take a look and see what you think?

    Five Frugal Things - School Uniform

    1. 20% off School Uniform at Marks & Spencers

    As soon as I saw this, I was immediately on the website and ordering sizes for both girls for the new term in September. 20% works out to be a decent amount of money when you are buying 5 pinafores, 5 trousers and countless blouses and tshirts.

    2. Cashback

    Not only did I get 20% off the school uniform, I activated the link through a cashback site, which technically means I got it even cheaper.

    3. Kidstart

    I set up a Kidstart account years ago that saves money for your children, in a similar way to a lot of cash back sites but this one saves for your children. I had completely forgotten about it in recent years (for no apparent reason) and have realised how easy it is to save for the children this way when shopping online. 

    4. Ocado Smart Pass

    Now I am well aware that there are cheaper supermarkets than Ocado but I actually deteste food shopping and when I can order via an app on my phone and have the magic food fairies come and deliver to my door, I can accept that this may not be the most frugal way of doing it. However, I have an Ocado Smart Pass that costs me £1.99 per month but gives me reduced delivery charges and discounted products every time I shop, saving 10% on a lot of the branded products I buy!

    5. Repeat Customer Bonus

    I am a big fan of Ocado (as you might have gathered), they win all sorts of awards in terms of customer service and unlike other supermarkets, have never been substitued with random products that I don't want or need. Ocado recognise this and having placed 4 orders within the last 6 weeks, they have awarded me with a £10 bonus to spend on my next shop!

     

    Have you got any top tips you can share with me on my quest to recover the money for my husbands "project"?

    Finally, as always, I’m linking up with CassEmma and Becky in this week’s ‘Five Fabulously Frugal things I’ve done this week linky.

     

  3. Living A Champagne Lifestyle On A Lemonade Budget

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    It's safe to say that once in a while, nearly all of us like to treat ourselves. Some people simply have expensive taste - although if this sounds like you (or me), you probably prefer to think of it as merely enjoying the finer things in life! Of course, if you have the cash to splash, there's nothing really to worry about. However, lots of people are living beyond their means, spending money they don't have on things they can't afford. Sometimes, this results in them turning to questionable measures to fund such a habit, such as taking out precarious loans or borrowing money from family members. Both of these things can easily come back at bite you at some point down the line - but what do you do when you and your family have become accustomed to having nice things 24/7? Everyone wants to be able to cut a fine line between having a little bit of luxury, but not being in massive amounts of debt at the same time. Unsurprisingly, it's all about balance - and here are some ways you can achieve it.

    Go crazy for economic swaps

    So, you may have a penchant for the occasional luxury treat, be it a pricey designer dress or your favorite bottle of aged wine. But stop and think for a moment as to whether these things are in fact a necessity - and more importantly, whether there are any cheaper alternatives. You may find yourself shunning cheap wine on principle but take the time to try some before making that decision. You will probably find that some of them are quite nice -in fact, you may not be able to even taste the difference if you were to do a blind taste test! You can easily save hundreds in a year from swapping your £20 wine for a £7 alternative.

     

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    Look out for vouchers

    If you're not using vouchers or couponing yet, why aren't you?! Both have got a bit of a bad name in the media, but looking for discounts doesn't always mean you are tight with money. More often than not, it can simply mean that you are smart! Keep one eye on websites such as vouchercodespro.co.uk, as many major retailers regular post deals on such sites to entice customers. It isn't just physical things you get money off - many vacation providers also put offers on these types of websites, so you can even get that luxury holiday at a fraction of the original price.

    Make some sacrifices

    Think about what matters to you, and what you could cut back on to splurge elsewhere. For example, if eating good food at fancy restaurants is your thing, but you couldn't care less about the car you drive, ditch your expensive saloon for a more economical hatchback. The cost price AND the insurance will typically be much lower, meaning you will have more spare cash to spend on the things that really matter to you.

  4. 6 ways to save money with the children over half term

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    One thing parents don’t need any reminding of is the costs which accumulate when having children. There are the things you bargain for – education, clothing, buying a family-sized car, increasing the size of the food shop etc. But it never ceases to amaze how many little (and sometimes not-so-little) unexpected costs crop up, particularly when it comes to activities.

    Of course, it’s always worth it in the end, and it’s difficult to really put a price on the memories shared with your children. But that doesn’t mean you can’t save a few pennies along the way, especially if it doesn’t reduce the levels of fun and enjoyment involved.

    6 ways to save money with the children over half term

    Here are some winning deals which may give you and the old bank account a bit more to smile about by the end of the month.

    Restaurants

    There are plenty of family-friendly restaurants with family-friendly prices. But there are a few which really stand out from the crowd. The ones which caught my eye are the 50% off mains at Frankie and Benny’s (who also have a separate £10 off offer via the app); kids eat free at La Tasca, and Toby Carvery all you can eat breakfast for £4, where kids can eat for just £2.99.

    Supermarkets

    Experts say that the supermarket price war is now coming to an end, but that’s not to say there aren’t some really good deals about. And there are some hidden gems too. For example, online supermarket vouchers to entice new customers tend to be particularly big savers. You can also take advantage of price-match policies by separating your bargain buys and your full price items into separate shops, as price match is done by the basket. Also, late-night shopping can allow you to take advantage of yellow-sticker reductions, with Morrisons and Co-op usually starting these offers from 7pm.

    Credit cards

    Many people I know have a bit of a love-hate relationship with their credit card, but there are some excellent cashback rewards available. At the moment the pick of the bunch is Amex Platinum, which offers a staggering 5 per cent on all spend for three months. But there are other good rewards from the likes of MBNA, Aqua and Sainsbury’s too.

    The cost-cutting loan

    The irony of the above is that any benefits from the rewards gained by spending will be more than negated if you don’t clear your balance each month. That’s because of high interest rates. But if you’re stuck with high balances on your card(s), you can cut your interest bills straight away by either taking advantage of 0% balance transfers, or consolidating debt with good-value loans.

    Clothes and fashion

    Season changes are always a good time for high-street (and online) store sales, and there are some good deals about. Asos top the shoe charts, with 70% off most merchandise at the moment, along with excellent discounts on shirts and jeans. M&S have an ‘up to 50% off’ general sale on the go too, while if you’re eyeing up school uniform for the next school year, you can pick this up for as little as £6.50 from Asda and Morrisons.

    Activities and excursions

    One offer which really jumped out at me is the collaboration with the Sun and Alton Towers. Tokens are in both the weekday and weekend Sun papers, and by collecting 10 different ones, you can win a pair (180,000 available) of free tickets to visit the theme park. Otherwise for other days out, it’s worth noting the myriad of free museums and galleries around, while, for the kids, there are free tennis and football clinics (the latter offered by the FA – free for girls, £2-£5 for boys) during school holidays. After all, it is by getting out and about that the precious time we have with our children can really be maximised.

    What do you do to maximise the time but minimise the cost of keeping up with the kids?