Thursday, 14 March 2013

What is ISA season?

I know that ISA season is approaching when my Grandma starts telling me about where she is going to move her ISAs to. She religiously checks out all the best rates, transfers her current ones and opens a new ISA too. My Grandma is very wise when it comes to ISAs. She always has been.

Back when I could afford to have an ISA, I was too. Every year, when March came around, it was time to hunt and choose the best ISA available. Invariably this meant trawling many different websites and a whole host of hassle. However, ISAs are now far less complex. Cash ISAs are available to anyone over 16 and stocks and shares ISAs are available for over 18s.

ISA season is technically the time leading up to the end of the tax year. Usually counted as the six-week period until the 5th of April. This is the time when, if you are looking to put aside some money to save, you should look at the best rates and check out the ISA which works the best for you. The current threshold for ISAs is £11,280. This can be made up solely of stocks and shares ISAs, or part stocks and shares ISAs and part cash. The limit for the most cash you can put into an ISA is £5,640. Crucially, any savings or investments must be made by the end of the tax year, on the 5th of April.

Whenever my Grandma starts talking about her ISAs, I feel bad that I can't afford one any more. However, our children have junior ISAs, where we can save up to £3,600 per year. We see it as one of the best possible ways to save for their future. In fact, I am positive that my children are richer than my husband and I!

On further investigation, I discovered I do still have an ISA open. It has the grand total of £1.57 i it, so maybe life is not so bad after all!

 This post is brought to you in association with Lloyds TSB

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Midweek money


Here are this week's money saving vouchers for you. There are some absolute corkers this week! I hope that they will save you some money in the run up to Christmas.

Free delivery on orders over £30. Follow this link
Code: CKSAV
Expires 11.12.12

This would be great for stocking up on Christmas presents, or treating yourself to something nice!
Save up to 50% on top photo products. Follow this link
No code needed 
Expires 31.12.12

Maybe you could invest in a personalised 2013 calendar.

10% off orders over £45. Follow this link.
Code: SAV6
Expires 09.12.12

Perfect for a discount on an array of goods, including baby wipes.

30% off winter prices with this exclusive code. Follow this link.
Code: SAVOO30
Expires: 16.12.12

Treat yourself to a new mattress, duvet or pillow set for a cosy winter!

Make sure you check when the codes end and make sure to ender the correct code at the checkout.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Midweek money

Here are this week's money saving vouchers for you. There are some absolute corkers this week! I hope that they will save you some money in the run up to Christmas.

£10 off a £20 spend at the Body Shop Follow this link
Code: SAVOO2040
Expires 26.11.12

This would be great for stocking up on Christmas presents, or treating yourself to something nice!
 
Crocs – 20% off any order. Follow this link
Code: SAVOO20 
Expires 25.11.12

There is a surprising array of different footwear. Far more than you would expect!

£10 off full price orders of £50 at Oasis. Follow this link.
Code: SAVOONOV
Expires 25.11.12

Perfect for a discount on an outfit for the office party or a Christmas outfit.

10% off orders of £30 or more. Follow this link.
Code: XMSWYN10
Expires: 25.11.12

Treat yourself to a pair of boots to keep you warm this winter!

12% off a £25 spend at Ryman. Follow this link.
Code: 12OFF25SAVOO
Expires: 24.11.12

Perfect for students and stocking up for the last few weeks of term.

Most of these vouchers expire before the end of the weekend so make sure you snap up a bargain now!

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Midweek money


I have some great vouchers for you this week. A few of them expire in the next few days though so make sure you snap up that bargain quickly.

20% off at Skechers. Follow this link.

Code: SAVOO20YY
Expires: 18.11.12

These are my favourite brand of trainers and this is a great offer. 

£5 off when you spend £25 at the Disney Store. Follow this link.
Code: SVSPECIAL5
Expires: 18.11.12

Perfect for snapping up Christmas presents.

10% off at Build-A-Bear Workshop. Follow this link.
Code: 498260
Expires: 19.11.12

This is a great deal to get a special present. They are also working with Children in Need at the moment, so you could treat your child to a Pudsey Bear and give to charity at the same time.

10% off books and gifts when you spend £25 or more. Follow this link.
Code: SD6732
Expires: 18.11.12

Again, a very good discount and will help save you money on your shopping, either buying books for yourself or a gift for someone else.

Friday, 9 November 2012

What is happiness?

Have you ever stopped for a minute and thought about happiness. What it means to you. What is it? What does it mean to you? Where do you find it? How do you use it?

Thomas Hobbes, the political philosopher said that happiness is gaining power and that we are driven by "a perpetual and restless desire of power after power'. Now, whilst Hobbes is indeed an incredibly intelligent man, I cannot agree with this statement.

In my mind, happiness can be derived from a plethora of sources, the vast majority of them absolutely nothing to do with gaining power. 

For example, some things which give me great pleasure are:
My children
My husband
My family
Hugs
Kisses
Support (emotional, physical, financial)
Lambs
Crows walking (seriously, watch them, it's hilarious)

Some forms of happiness we take for granted. I know that I am guilty of this. My husband for one should be awarded a huge 'I'm taken for granted' medal. If it were not for him, I would not be the person I am today. Fact. He made me realise so many things about myself and my abilities. I wouldn't have even considered going to university because I would not have believed I was clever enough. Yet here I am, at a top 10 university, doing well (ish). So thank you for being utterly brilliant! Your medal's in the post.

Thomas Hobbes also got me thinking about how we use happiness. I know that might sound wrong, but surely we must be able to use happiness to create more happiness. Even something as simple as smiling at a stranger in the street could pass on your happiness to another, or a gift, or even a hug. 

What do you think? What makes you happy and do you think happiness can be used to create more happiness?

I write a 'What has made me happy' linky over on www.offcumden.com. Please feel free to come and join in. Let me know what makes you happy!

You're not from round here

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Midweek money


I hope some of you managed to get a good deal with my comet voucher code the other week, before they went into administration! Hopefully I won't have the same curse on the companies whose vouchers I am highlighting this week.


Magical Disney Offers 50% off items and more. Follow this link.
Code: No code needed.

Perfect for DVD's and plenty of Disney toys.

Earlybird Christmas deals at Amazon. Folow this link.
Code: No code needed.


You can buy anything here. I love amazon for grabbing a bargain. Make sure you check the postage of some sellers though - it can be very high!

£10 off first ever online shop with Tesco. Follow this link.
Code: XXAFFT


This would be great for saving a bit on your shopping. You can use your clubcard points online too!

I hope you manage to save some money this week!


Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Midweek money

Ooh, so now I have a name for my posts which contain money saving vouchers and codes for you.

I will make sure that this is a weekly feature, aimed at saving you money in places I think you might like. There is nothing wrong with finding savings where you can.

Here are my picks of the best offers which will save you money in your daily, weekly or even Christmas shopping!

20% off at the Early Learning Centre
Code: DHQ3


Great for children's toys for imagination play and educational play. This is a great voucher with Christmas fast approaching.

Up to 80% off on footwear at Sports Direct
No code needed


Fantastic sportswear and trainers. Great for getting into shape in time for Christmas.

20% off at Red Letter Days.
Code: SAVOO20


This is a great option for a Christmas present, or even for a spa day or afternoon tea just to spoil yourself.

£10 off groceries worth £50 or more for first time customers at Sainsburys.
Code: R9T7-6LMF-9R94

Who doesn't want to save money on their weekly food shop!

I hope you make the most of these vouchers. Have fun saving money.

Disclaimer: Most links are affiliate links.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Should we ditch social media?

Is it time to ditch social media? I have recently been thinking a lot about social networking. It is a huge part of our daily lives, especially to bloggers. But how does social networking impact on our real life friendships? You know, the friends you meet up with regularly. I have no doubt that social networking is good for the friends I meet inside my computer - there are so many people I wouldn't have had the pleasure of encountering without, for example, Twitter.

Not long ago, I met with a friend for coffee. I started to tell her about something which had happened in the week. She stopped me and said, "yes, I saw it on Facebook". That was the end of the conversation.

I find it quite sad though that you start telling someone a story only to find out that they read it on facebook, and therefore don't want to hear the full story because they think they know it already! More often than not, I tell my friends a fuller version of what I put on Facebook. It has become a competitive place, where we compare ours lives to other people's. It can really get you down when you don't make as good jam as others! I also had a problem recently with a friend who, knowing that my son had problems following his injections, consistently posted photos and propaganda about why you shouldn't give your children vaccinations. It was overwhelming. I would have preferred her just to e-mail me and tell me straight out that I was a bad parent!

We spend so much time on social networking sites compared with actual time out with our friends and it does seem such a shame that they already 'know' what's going on in your life. I am not someone who constantly updates their facebook (maybe once every four or five days), and there are very few people who actually know me who are my friends on Twitter (fewer than 5).

It got me thinking about over-sharing. Is it possible that we are sharing too much information with everyone? Knowing what others are doing all the time can't be good for us. Is there not a risk of extreme over-crowding in our already jam packed brains? Where will the space be for reading good literature, learning new and important information? How do we turn our brains off to the constant tweets, facebook updates and general gossip? How do I stop asking questions no-one can answer?

My best friend and I live over 200 miles away and somehow it has become acceptable that we communicate purely in facebook 'likes' or status updates. I only speak to her every few months and I worry that our friendship has suffered because of social media. I am now planning to send her a letter, remember those? One which actually lets her know what we are up to, including some pictures of the children and updates on how we are doing.

Last week I deactivated my personal Facebook account. I still use it for my blog account, but the personal one has gone. It feels liberating. Light a weight has been lifted. My brain no longer knows what a girl I once went to school with had for dinner this evening, or where an ex colleague (who went on to do way better than me) has gone on holiday this week. I don't mind that my brain in no longer filled with information about who has had no sleep, lots of sleep, hasn't stopped having sex for three weeks, etc. I have, however, really enjoyed going to toddler groups and talking about what people have done without having already read it on facebook.

I still don't think that I could go full cold turkey and quit everything, even for a few weeks. No Facebook, Twitter or blogging. I think it's a great idea and I hope that I can build up to it. Maybe.

What do you think? Is social networking bad for our friendships?


Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Saving you money

Who doesn't like to save money? I will be giving readers the chance to save some money every week with a blog post which includes money saving voucher codes.

With Halloween fast approaching, this offer is great for purchasing any items you may need.
You can get 10% off when you buy Halloween items from I want one of those IWOT. You just need to click here and make sure you use the code SAVBOO at checkout.

This is a great offer from Littlewoods, £20 off a first time order over £40. Just click here and use the code 2BYCC at the checkout.

If you are looking for beautiful but affordable children's clothes, then this code is for you. The voucher is for Vertbaudet and you can get £15 off your first order of £20 or over, a huge saving! You need to click here and use the code 4698.

If you are planning a short break then this voucher will give you a helping hand with 20% off short breaks when you purchase it through buyagift. Just click here and use the code SAVOOBREAK20

I hope these codes will save you some money.

Disclaimer: All links are affiliate.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Family Budgeting

This is a guest post from Laura who blogs at Yummy Mummy Flabby Tummy.

I have 2 children and didn't realise how much raising children would cost. The baby part was (mostly) OK, especially when my first was born, as everyone bought lots of presents and gave us lots of money for their banks. It’s as they've gotten older and need more stuff: shoes, clothes, hobbies, activities, and days out, toys, games and food!

The easiest way to monitor what we spend? A budget planner. I keep track of how much we earn and deduct every single bill off our combined income each month. Once I know what we've got to pay out, I take what is left and stick it in a spending kitty. It isn't much, as we put money away for savings, road tax, MOT and Christmas but it keeps us right and means we aren't in a position where we have to worry about paying our bills.

Everything is going up in price these days apart from our wages. In order to be able to spend money to cover the things we need, we had to make some cut-backs. One of the ways I do this is by using a weekly meal planner. I plan ahead what meals we’re having every day of the week so I only buy the ingredients I need to cook the meals. I started doing this about 2 years ago now and I really noticed a difference in my spending habits.

Another way we have cut-back is by spending less on fuel and using our legs to get from A to B. We’re both lucky to work in the town we live in so we can walk or cycle to work. I walk the kids to school and nursery every day; its great exercise as well as helping to save fuel and the environment.
Groups on Facebook make it easier than ever to make a bit of extra cash. I've sold loads of baby equipment and clothes on our local buy and sell group which has then funded new school clothes and shoes and uniforms for ballet and karate.

School fees for trips or nursery snack money? I pay up-front for the year. I do the same, if I can, with their hobbies. This means, should the worse happen, I know I don’t have to worry about paying for their activities.

For Christmas and birthdays, I ask family and close friends to put some money in a card for the kids or ask them to buy the essentials such as pants, socks, vests and pyjamas. I use the cash to buy clothes in the sales. I'm lucky the birthdays fall in the middle of the year as I'm just in time for the summer sales and you can’t go wrong with the Boxing Day sales.

My Grandad used to say, “If I can’t buy it myself then I have to save the money for it myself!” This is something I live by and something I hope my children will learn from me too. Either that or a lottery win would be nice!