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.
I love to read but what with all the girls activitives, school, work and general life being bonkers busy most of the time, reading seems to take little priority. So along with my 40 things in my 40th year list, I have challenged myself to read more this year and I love that it is also saving me money!
Why is reading saving me money you may ask (or may not) but I am going to share it anyway.
I have never been a big fan of reading on a tablet, I love the smell and feel of a paper book but trying to squeeze in a couple of chapters before I go to sleep isnt practical when you have a husband who likes to sleep in the pitch black. Reading on a tablet gives me a solution to this.
I can download books instantly.
I can download free books.
I can download the latest releases without going to the shops and spending money unecessarily on other things I don't need.
I can read on the sofa and not spend my time browsing online websites and spending money.
I can read in the dark (saving on the electricity .... okay I admit that this is a very loosely hinged money saving point).
My most favourite thing though? It might keep my pennies in my purse but it keeps my mind rich too! I am looking forward to reading on holiday this summer ..... I just hope the iPad doesn't overheat!
Despite my best efforts (or not as the case maybe), I don't feel like I have been particularly frugal lately. May was a really expensive month and with the 40 Things To Do in My 40th Year challenges, I know I need to save a little more this month. My plan is to write a post about it each week to make me more accountable, so here goes!
Free Make Up!
Make up is expensive, especially if you want the named brands. Emma Bradley very often shares links for free make up samples which are always welcomed, especially when recently my daughter got to try a (very small) sample of MAC lipstick.
I also subscribe to Martin Lewis's money saving email and he sent out a link for Max Factor make up last week. If you spent £14, you got a free gift which includes a primer, mascara, kohl pencil and lip gloss. Obviously if you don't need or use any of this stuff it isn't such a great deal but I was running out of lip gloss and primer so was ideal timing for me.
Costa Coffee Club
We seem to spend a lot of time in Costa, whether it is waiting around for one of the girls to finish an after school club or going for a warm drink after swimming, I decided that getting a Costa Coffee Club card was the smart idea. It definitely has been because with my points I have had a few free hot chocolates lately ...... without even doing anything differently!
Annual delivery pass savings
I am sure I have probably mentioned this before but as I buy a lot of things online, having annual delivery passes totally makes sense. I use Amazon Prime (it has genuinely got me out of trouble with their next day delivery on more than one occasion) but the big one for me is Next. £20 a year means that you get free delivery every time you shop. So you only have to make 5 orders in the year to make this pay (my husband might say that I do this in one month but we won't mention that). For me it is having the freedom to order clothes / gifts / homeware and look at it at home, without the worry of not liking it and it costing me to order alternatives.I know it probably encourages me to shop more with Next online but I suppose it works for both me as the consumer and them as the brand. Win win!
Buying in advance
Buying online helps me to seek out the bargains but popping into local stores can also mean you find some great deals. My present cupboard is currently stocked right up and I have got gifts sorted for my daughters friends birthdays right up until the end of August. Finding deals makes me more organised and prepared (which I love) but also helps with the bank balance too!
Not going out
Later in the month I have some really exciting days out planned from Ladies Day at the Races and Afternoon Tea at the Ritz (squeal) so this weekend, I am staying put. I am not spending any money and going to eat out of the freezer. No takeaways, no taxis, no spending!
May has been EXPENSIVE. Not just a little bit expensive but REALLY REALLY expensive.
You see I have a teenager. Enough said, no?
I have a teenager with a birthday and the desire for a "different kind of birthday party"
Many of her friends have had big parties, with disco and 100 friends. I did not want to go down that road but wanted her to celebrate with friends that matter, not half of her year group who she barely speaks to most of the time. Plus she wanted something a little different.
So what did we decide to do? Hold a party on a boat! Now before you think I have actually lost my mind, there was a method to my madness. If I hired a hall I would have the hire of the venue, a DJ and the capacity for ALOT of children. On the barge we were limited to 25 people and we could plug in our own playlists, money and stress saving right there!
My daughter wanted the very fashionable "drip cakes" that are seen all over social media and whilst they are STUNNING, they are also expensive when catering for 25 people. I received quotes for around £50 which on top of the boat hire was beginning to give me palpitations so was delighted to find a supermarket version for 1/5 of that price!
After stressing about making sure I got the right cake, the irony is that none of the girls ate it so was more than happy I had chosen the cheaper version.
Saving on a DJ was perfect as the girls played their own songs for the first hour or so but then some of the mums got involved and took over the playlists so we had everything from YMCA and the Macarena. The teens tried to resist dancing but the sun was shining and the boat floating along the canals of Birmingham and the party vibe took over.
We didn't do party bags ..... I mean teenagers do not want plastic tat (although I am not sure anyone ever wants plastic tat) and we created our own photo booth with a frame and some silly props. Another saving but with teens who love a selfie, you have to have some photo opportunities don't you?
This post is headed "planning a birthday party without breaking the bank" and I am not suggesting for a moment that it was the cheapest option available but in comparison to a party with 100 people, it was definitely the more cost effective. That said, everyone had an AMAZING time, we had mums who wanted to join us on the boat, the sun was shining and it was certainly something that they will all remember and for me, that is priceless. Unfortunately the addition of the birthday presents, family gatherings and shopping trips for outfits offset any savings I made and made the month an expensive one!
So I hope no one wants anything glamorous for dinner this month as the budget has been squeezed ...... I wonder how long I can feed them birthday cake for??
Most people experience challenges when it comes to keeping some cash for use in the future. Especially as parents, it is crucial for you to focus on your long-term goals. The goal could be to save money for home renovation, purchase a car, buy a home, or start a business. To succeed in saving the target amount, you have to start monitoring your spending habits and reduce expenses. Here are some of the best saving boosting products on the market.
Open an Individual Savings Account (ISA)
Opening an ISA at your preferred financial institution is one of the best products that will boost savings. At the end of every week or month, you deposit a certain amount of money in the ISA account. It will help you grow savings efficiently without paying taxes, as you are limited to £20,000 each year. Once you lock your cash in the deposit account for a fixed period, you earn an interest income which adds money to your account.
Automate Savings (Use an App)
To boost your savings further, it is crucial to automate savings into your ISA. You can you use automated programs to transfer a certain amount of money to your account. You can set the app to deposit at payday or several times during the month.
No Credit Card
To increase your savings, limit access to cash in the account. Put the funds in your savings account, which is not linked to a credit card.
A lifetime ISA can help you increase your savings. You can use the cash to purchase your first home or use it after retirement. Once you save £4,000 per year, you get 25% bonus in your account from the government. The maximum amount is £1,000 and age limit is 50. Additionally, lifetime ISAs can have cash or stocks or combination of the two.
Help to Buy ISA
In case you are saving to purchase a first home, you should consider keeping cash in a help to buy ISA. The account attracts a government boost of 25% of the amount of savings. The maximum bonus is £3,000. It is available for first time home buyers.
Stocks and Shares ISA
The account allows you to invest your money in a flexible and tax-efficient manner. It offers higher returns than a cash savings account. The gains are tax-free, and you can invest up to £20,000. The stocks and shares ISA allows you to invest in the best portfolio. You can spend on shares, cash, bonds, or commodities, but remember, your capital is always at risk.
Paying old debts such as education loans, will not only improve your credit score, but also boost your ability to save. Once you have repaid all old debts, you can focus on increasing your savings. Subscriptions To increase your savings, you need to reconsider whether you need various subscriptions services. You can reduce payments to magazines, premium channels subscriptions among others to lower monthly bills and boost savings. Do you really use that gym membership (be honest)? Can you reduce your phone bill?
Coffee and Other Unnecessary Spending
If you love coffee, you can cut daily visits to café and start making coffee at home. Importantly, reduce shopping on items not in the budget.
Consult a Financial Advisor
Set aside some cash to purchase a book on savings tips or consult an advisor. The guide will motivate you to continue savings and we love stuff that motivates you!