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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 or by one of our baby bloggers. Occasionally we accept guest posts too. 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: Money Saving

  1. Valentines Gift Ideas on a Budget

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    We have vowed to be more frugal this year and whilst I am not suggesting my husband buys me a ring from Poundland (as seems to have been advertised everywhere this year), we can still be romantic without the price tag, can't we?

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    Each year as Valentine's Day approaches there are many among us who begin stressing out over gift giving. A low budget coupled with the desire to show a lover how special they are greatly increases the stress level.

    It seems every shop and store we enter has devoted a large portion of the shelf space available to Valentine's Day gifts, candy, and cards. Newspapers are full of advertisements for these gifts and restaurant ads for romantic dinners for two at an unreasonably high price. With a little ingenuity and forethought you can take the stress out of Valentine's Day this year.

    The top four gifts expected for Valentine's Day are chocolate, flowers, cards, and jewellry. Whether dating, living together, or married, taking a look at each of these categories can assist in finding a reasonably priced means of showing your love.

    Chocolate

    Bigger is not always better. While the heart shaped gift boxes of chocolate are lovely to look at, your lover may actually prefer a smaller box. Even if your lover is not allergic physically to chocolate their hips and waistline are. Many of us are tired of the rich desserts offered through the recent holidays and are dieting with thoughts of summer vacation and activities ahead. Opt for a small box and let your lover know while you wanted to give the largest box available you did not want to destroy their diet. Your thoughtfulness will be deeply appreciated.

    If you have extremely limited or no funds to purchase traditionally packaged delights, try making your lover homemade treats. If your lover prefers another dessert over chocolate, why not see if you can make it yourself for a really personal touch. 

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    Flowers

    A florist's largest season is Valentine's Day and the cost of roses can be triple the normal asking price. A less expensive alternative is carnations or a mixed bouquet of flowers. It is thrilling to have flowers delivered to the workplace and it elicits ooh's and ahh's from co-workers. If your schedule permits, instead of paying a florist's delivery fee arrive fifteen minutes prior to your partners lunch break with a single rose or carnation and an invitation to lunch. It will not matter how inexpensive the lunch is, your thoughtfulness and presence will make your loved ones day.

    Cards

    Card shops, department stores, and grocery stores all charge a seemingly unreasonable price for a card. Part of me balks at the cost of cards and then how we recycle them only days later but I do love receiving them. They don't need to be expensive, even hand made but making sure you write heartfelt words inside is the key to the perfect card!

    Jewellry

    Most newspapers are packed with jewellry store and department store advertisements for jewelry, the cost of which can be frightening if you are working with a low budget. While diamonds are the number one gemstone sold through Valentine's Day, no one said it has to be a diamond or has to be heart shaped. There are many lovely gemstones to choose from and many affordable pieces without gemstones that will be just as highly prized by the recipient.

    An alternative to shopping at local jewellry or department stores are those shows on television that sell nothing but jewellry at wholesale prices. Beautiful and affordable jewelry can be found through these shows or their on-line websites twenty four hours a day. 

    If you are a teenager or non-working young adult with little or no funds and no credit cards, you might try offering to do extra work for your parents in exchange for ordering an item for you. Most parents will agree to this and be grateful to gain help in cleaning out garages or attics and similar jobs.

    Stuffed Animals

    Places like the Card Factory and the pound shops are great places to find Valentine themed stuffed animals at great bargains. Most females love stuffed animals but obviously do not give stuffed animals to a lover with an allergy to dust.

    Gift Baskets

    An alternative to the traditional Valentine's Day gifts is to make a basket for your loved one which holds some of their favorite small items. You can make your own confetti to line the basket with the household paper shredder. Perhaps the man in your life is an avid fisherman or hunter. Perhaps the lady in your life loves hot teas or specialty coffees. A gift basket's contents is limited only by your imagination.

    Dinner For Two

    Instead of an over priced meal for two in a restaurant, opt for a home cooked meal or take out. It is the atmosphere that counts the most. Dim the lights, turn the music on low, and light the candles. Purchase two roses, one for the table for your lover and the other to sprinkle the rose petals around the table. Bonus points here if you can actually cook!

    The Gift Of Time

    If you have children offer to clear your schedule to provide your other half with a day to themselves. A gift certificate for a free day can be made on the computer and enclosed in a card and will be a huge hit with a busy parent. Coordinate the date and arrangements with your partner according to whether they would like to spend the day at home alone to relax or a day out of the house.  

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    Regardless of what you decide to bestow upon your loved one for Valentine's Day, remember if they truly love you the cost of the gift is irrelevant. It really is the kindness and thought that went into the gift that counts.

  2. New Year Savings

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    I can't believe that it has been a month since we have posted on the blog and we have taken some time out and had a really good break. To be honest, having so much "down time" I have struggled to get back up again. And get out of bed in the morning. But you can't keep me down for long.

    The New Year always brings new starts for people, new ideas, sometimes new jobs and new homes and for me it is always a spring clean and a fresh approach.

    Last weekend I "cleansed" our bedroom of things we were just holding on to and in the words of Marie Kondo, found myself questioning whether or not those things brought me joy ..... or just something else to clean or store.

    Having cleaned out a lot of space I have now have some extra room to store some of the bargain savings I have been making.

    1. Buy Christmas Cards at less than half the price

    I know, I know! But I have bought some stunning Christmas cards for less than half the price and there is nothing nicer than opening a cupboard in November, already being prepared and having one less thing to buy in December.

    2. Make the swap

    We have swapped some of our brand shopping for local produce and shopping at Aldi. I can't say that I can still do a whole shop in one place but we are being more supportive of local businesses and saving money

    3. Buy in advance

    Being prepared is one of my biggest money savers. I always check the calendar for upcoming birthdays and events and set a budget. Especially at this time of year when so many expensive items are reduced, it is good to plan present ideas meaning the recipiant gets more, while you pay less!

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    4. Encourage money management

    Both my girls had Christmas money and now when they ask for something, I reply with "do you want to spend your Christmas money on it". If they do, then I know they really want it but if they don't, it highlights that it is just a "want" rather than a "need".

    5. Just say NO

    This is something I am learning to do this year. I am very much a Yes person. I love to go out, I love to take my girls on activities but in January I have said no on more than a couple of occasions already. Money saving right there! 

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    What do you do to survive the January pinch?

  3. How to keep the cost of Christmas decorating to a minimum

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    It’s advent! Time to deck the halls and pull out all the stops to ensure your home is sparkling, twinkling, merry and bright. While Christmas decorating is one of my favourite things to do with the kids, I’m definitely feeling as though there’s more of an expectation than ever to have a fantastically festive home.

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    Whether you’ve found inspiration on Pinterest, from a neighbour, or via following certain Insta accounts, 2018 is about creating a classy Chrismassy abode, from lighting to scents and all that’s in between. Heck, even your favourite seasonal Zoflora scent is a topic of interest this year. Yes, even your disinfectant. Needless to say, the pressure is on!

    With so much to think about, the cost of Christmas decorating can quickly sky rocket. It’s important to remember that your Christmas is about what it means for you and your family. If your Christmas tradition is to pull down the same tree from the attic and decorate it with family favourite baubles, then don’t cave under social media standards. As soppy as it sounds, memories are moments with meaning, rather than heaps of material possessions.

    That said, if you’re fancying a revamp or want to add to your existing collection, there are ways to push down the financial burden of decorating, so it’s a little kinder on your pocket.

    During advent, children are on top form, bursting with the excitement of Christmas. Channel this energy into some creative crafts. Making Christmas paperchains, paper snowflakes to stick to the windows and even Christmas crackers, will not only keep the young ones entertained, but is a sure way to make decorations steeped in sentimental value.

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    Scout around the charity shops, too. Often, when people buy new Christmas decorations, they donate their old ones to charity. This doesn’t mean they’re worn and outdated, either. Some homes buy new year on year, others donate theirs when they decorate with a new colour scheme. Have a browse around! You’ll be surprised.

    Do a bit of a decoration swap with family or friends. What’s old to you, is new to them, and sometimes that’s enough to give your Christmas decorating a bit of a boost. Incredibly cost effective – costing nothing at all – get together with your bits and bobs, and you may well have enough to swap to give your home a fresh new festive feel.

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    And finally, failing all that, check out the sales. As we head closer to the big day, stores start to panic that they won’t shift Christmas stock and prices drop. With up to 75% slashed of RRP on the highstreet, the longer you leave it, the better the deals you will get on decorations. Perhaps, you will keep your existing sparkle for this season, and bag a brand-new haul for 2019. Sounds like a plan!

  4. 3 easy ways to save money before Christmas

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    With Black Friday Week  and Cyber Monday Week done and dusted, we’re all feeling the pinch in our pockets this week. Although we’ve all supposedly been paid last week, I’m shook. My bank statement sure doesn’t look like it!

    As the end of the year gets closer and we are cozy in our homes, it is usually a time when we all think about new years resolutions and maybe a new home. Moving house is a massive undertaking for anyone, so before you start getting moving quotes we have some top tips for saving money before Christmas. It sounds like an impossible task but it can be done! 

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    We all know that December is tight. It’s no secret that when we get towards the end of the month, there’s an element of scrimping and saving. Luckily, we’ve already bought sufficient supplies of snacks, so at least we don’t starve. So long as you’re happy feasting on Festive Friends biscuits, M&S chocolate rounds, Pringles, and Quality Street toffee circles. If you’re lucky, there might even be an allusive After Eight left lurking somewhere amongst the empty wrappers.

    In all seriousness, while this is certainly the season for splurging, there are ways your can keep hold of some of your hard-earned cash.

    1. Go a bit Grinch with gifting

    OK, so that’s not in the holiday spirit, entirely, but it’s definitely worth rethinking your gifting. Sure, if you want to splurge on your children at Christmas, that’s great. You do your thing. But do you really need to be a second Santa Claus for the children of extended family and friends? Do you have to gift your parcel delivery lady, the staff at school, your colleagues? Probably not. Tot up what you would spend on presents you actually begrudge gifting and consider gradually decreasing the amount your pocket parts with. Alternatively, if you’re brave enough, scrap it altogether and simply explain you’re cutting back should the conversation arise.

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    1. Say no to seasonal outings

    Not all seasonal outings, of course. You want to head somewhere special with your family, whether it’s Christmas markets, a panto, or Santa’s grotto. Sure, you do. However, you don’t need to show your face at every festive event with extended family, friends, or co-workers. Prioritise your time. Don’t go to anything that really doesn’t do it for you. Choose the odd one or two occasions, and really enjoy them. As well as saving money, it could well save your sanity at this time of year!

    1. Bag the bargains

    There’s two ways to save mega bucks when it comes to buying presents: get gifts early or get them real late. Chances are, if you’re considering this tip, purchasing pressies early is out of the equation. Luckily, during December, stores start to panic and slash the prizes on prezzies. For example, M&S frequently slashes Christmas gifts by as much as 50 per cent at this time of year. Keep an eye on your inbox, as companies give sales a final push, you should see a whole host of discount codes appear in your emails. Don’t panic buy, put a couple of evenings aside, search online for the best prices, make use of offers and discount codes, and save some cash on the RRP.

    If you take heed of some of our top tips, you will notice that your savings will quickly add up. Good luck!