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NatWest Search For A New Iconic Piggy #pigsbykids

6 Nov

Have you heard about the NatWest #pigsbykids Campaign?

No? Well, let me fill you in then…

NatWest are encouraging children to save by way of launching a fabulous campaign based around its iconic piggy.

NatWest Piggies have long played a massive part in the banks advertisements and savings promotions… Its actually a huge part of NatWest as we know them! And I for one have always related the two very closely, especially given how I always wanted one of my own piggies. Its fair to say that the last piggy became somewhat famous within its own right, what with it being worth a good few quid nowadays. Maybe your lucky enough to still have one of your own?

Well, its a new generation of saving and with it must come a new generation of pig. So, with this, NatWest are encouraging kids to bank their pennies with a fabulous competition. They are on the look out for a new piggy icon and they want your children to get their creative juices flowing by way of creating one.

The winning child’s pig will then shoot to fame by becoming the brand new NatWest Pig.

Little Man and Alice-Sara have both been extremely busy creating their pigs. They have started the design plan on paper and are now applying their ideas to clay model designs which are not yet complete and still very much a working progress.

Nonetheless, I can’t wait to upload their final designs and enter them into this exciting competition.

It really has given little man lots of motivation, given his not all that keen on art due to his difficulties with fine motor skills and low concentration levels. Its really is a positive step that he feels inspired to give it a go.

I really like the message behind this campaign and love how NatWest are delivering it. This is a fabulous opportunity to get your children’s imaginations over flowing while teaching them why saving money is important. I wanted my children to have a good understanding about the campaign and the reasons behind it! I’m all for children having some degree of independence when it comes to money. Children need to learn the importance of saving and the true value of money at an early age.

I also think it would be pretty awesome to see a design created by a child used in such a way by NatWest. Children tend to have the most magical, wonderful and if not sometimes slightly strange ideas floating around in their heads. So, I for one cannot wait to see what both my children and others produce in the name of #pigsforkids

Alice’s paper creation

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As the competition has a deadline of the 11th November 2012 I wanted to make sure everyone was aware so they could join in the fun and get creating Piggies of their own. However, I will be sure to pop back and share the children’s designs that they are currently creating with the use of some fantastic art materials that were so kindly supplied by NatWest.

Read the information below to discover some of the competition requirements and a link to the full terms and conditions over at Natwest.

The competition is open to children up to 13 years old.

The winning design will become the new NatWest pig.

The closing date for entries is 12pm on 11th November 2012

Terms and conditions apply and should be read over on the NatWest website.

This is an advertising promotion for NatWest.

I am promoting the competition as its one of great interest and something the children will be taking part in themselves. I was not paid to write this but NatWest did supply the children with a great craft kit to help them create their own little piggies.

What A Bummer!

5 Nov

Just a quick one…. I have a terrible tooth and earache and need to neck some Solpadelne before resting my head on my pillow… That is once my children stop terrorising me with their moaning and constant arguing. There is simply nothing worse than children’s menace like behaviour when your ill or in pain.

Well, I thought I should pop on to inform my readers that despite being lucky enough to make it to the final 10 in the “Smartest Shopper Competition” which involved having an interview with the lovely judges in London last Saturday, I sadly, didn’t go on to win.

It was a long week waiting to discover which one of us 10 finalist would be crowned the smartest shopper winning the opportunity to write a new money saving blog and 10K in prize money. I was finally put out my misery on friday some six days later. I don’t know who won. I do know a few other finalist who didn’t win but like everyone else I’m still waiting to hear who did bag this wonderful prize. I’ve heard that its being announced on Tuesday (why Tuesday and not Money I’m unsure). I just had to write this as over the weekend I’ve had some lovely messages wishing me good luck and felt I should just let my readers know.

Am I disappointed? God, of course I am… Savoo don’t know what they are missing… 😉

I wouldn’t be human if I wasn’t a bit gutted. The blog would have been a great new project for me and the fact I would have had the support of Savoo behind me would have been excellent. Then there is the money! I won’t pretend like its nothing… Because it is! I’m not well off at all and how often do You get that close to owning £10,000 in these tough economic times… Well, for me… Not often at all!

Throughout the competition I never said what I’d do with that money if I won and surprising no one asked… Not even the judges during the interview which i surprised me as I kind of expected them to, what with the competitions focus on money. I didn’t want to write about it in case I jinxed myself… Super superstitious is me!

I know it really doesn’t matter now, but I’m just going to be a tad sad and tell you anyway.

So, what would I have done with £10,000 then? Well, I knew exactly what I would have done with it.

Booked a family holiday to Disney and Universal studios, Florida. All my kids would love to holiday here but its something little man has been requesting for ages since hearing all about our neighbours adventures last summer. Despite this, he remains anxious about flying and has requested we only fly with virgin, as its owned by Richard Brandson, his idol. So I’ll continue to save for the families dream holiday.

Secondly, I would have upgraded my Mac Air as this one is playing up (though I think its only the battery which apple need to replace)!

Number 3 I’d done the rest of my Christmas shopping removing that pending stress.

Lastly and most importantly, I’d invested the rest in a new business. One I’d love to make happen in the very near future. It may now take a little longer then I wanted but I will still make it happen. How do I know? Well, simply because I’m passionate about it and believe in myself.

I don’t want to say to much, after all my ideas are not yet protected. What I will say its a fabulous idea… if I do say so myself.

Its always hard when you get so very close to something you want then it doesn’t happen. But experiences are important and like they say… everything happens for a reason!

I’m sure Savoo have found themselves a fantastic winner to work with… So very well done, whoever you are?

So… What about writing more about saving money! Well, my very clever little man who helps me save money in the supermarkets with his mental math skills and great ability to work out the best deal on the spot… has been suggesting a few new ideas and different angles (I think he thinks his my agent sometimes)! Nonetheless his suggested some good ideas backed up with some valid points and I can’t believe I’m saying this, but… I think I may just take the 12 year olds advice.

He thinks that I should still write a money saving and maybe one day create a new platform to share it!

You see… Its not all meltdowns and school exclusion. My little man is an extremely intelligent boy who would one day make the perfect business man.

So… There you have it. Here’s hoping that as one door closes another will open.

Thanks for reading & have a brilliant week.

Money Saving And Financial Support Resources For Those Parenting A Child With A Disability

22 Oct

We all know that parenting children with disabilities or SEN is more costly for whatever reason!

That’s why I wanted to share some great resources designed to help such families save money and lessen the burden.

Help with the everyday cost of living

If your child is entitled to any benefits such as Disability Living Allowance (DLA) be sure to claim them as your child’s appropriate adult.

Filling out DLA forms can seem a daunting process but there is help out there. Many online sites have developed detailed guides to help you fill in the form to the best of your ability.

Once your child’s DLA application has been approved, fill out a Carers Allowance form (better still do it at the same time as the DLA form) This isn’t a great deal of money but does help to lessen the burden especially if you are caring full time and are not in the position to work.

Save Money On Days Out

Most major theme parks and attractions do offer special rates for those with a disability and their carer. I would suggest visiting your planed attraction online. All will need to have easy access to their policies relating to disability, access and pricing. Most of the large parks also provide special access passes so those who find it difficult to queue can use the rides exist. Note… Each park has its own policies but most will require you to bring a certain amount of identification as well as proof of disability.

Financial Support Towards Days Out & Holiday’s

The Happy Days Charity funds and organises holidays, residential trips, days out and theatre trips for children and young people aged 3 to 17 years with learning difficulties, physical or mental disabilities.

Individuals can apply for help with the cost of days out and theatre trips, while families can apply for funding towards a one week UK family holiday (though a supporting letter from a professional is needed).

Another charity that can provide assistance to families in need of a break are the “Family Holiday Association” who helps disadvantaged children and their families with family UK breaks. Applications must be made by a welfare agent exp… Social worker etc.

Below is a charity who have helped us fund days out to their attractions, such as Lego Land and Chessington. They have done this by providing us with complementary family tickets. Note… there was some talk last year of pending changes to the way the charity processed applications form families of autistic children so you should refer to their website for full details….

Merlin’s Magic Wand is a worldwide charity for children, aiming to provide magical experiences for those who are seriously ill, disabled or disadvantaged.

The charity has been created by the Merlin Entertainments Group, Merlin’s Magic Wand is a UK charitable trust, run by a Board of Trustees. The board manages the funds and makes awards to good causes in the countries in which Merlin operates. Find out who is eligible and how to apply by visiting their website.

Its also worth noting that Scope have a special inclusion service designed to help children and young people with disabilities access leisure activities and facilities within their own communities.

Save Money On Travel Costs.

Earlier in the week I spoke about the disabled persons railcard which enables the card holder and carer upto 30% each of their travel. There is a yearly fee of around £20 but its worth it as you can save a fortune. I also highlighted how those claiming DLA who receive the high care rate and live in london can normally apply for a disabled persons pass (which enables the card holder free travel in london) You should check with the local authority or DWP about accessing this service. Those who receive the mobility part at the higher rate are also entitled to a blue badge which could make parking at hospitals etc a whole lot cheaper and easier. If the person in receipt of the benefit is a minor the child’s carer is able to use the badge on the family car.

Those in receipt of mobility may also be given the option of a car provided for their use by a car dealer on behalf of the DLA. This means a brand new car is provided to the family but the cost is taken from the mobility part of their DLA and they will receive no or very little cash payment (but will have the car for as long as they are in receipt of the benefit with the option of upgrades).

Financial assistance for home improvements and mobility aids.

That Act Foundation gives grants to individuals and charities based in the UK. These grants are designed to enhance the quality of life specifically for those with physical and/or learning disabilities.

Grants can be provided for building (modifications to the home)
Equipment (mobility aids etc…)
Financial assistance towards respite registered breaks.

The local authority/council can provide help and assistance in way of a disabled facilities grant. This is designed to provide financial assistance to enable families to make adaptions to the home as to allow the child with a disability to continue living there. Note: for those under the age of 19 years this is not means tested.

The Variety Club is a really great charity who provide grants and assistance to provide families with vital daily items that often go unconsidered yet cost thousands of pounds every year. These include things like bath mats, toilet seats, car seats and more.

Family Fund Is another fabulous charity that provide families of disabled children grants and vouchers for essential items such as appliances and more. They can even supply families with vouchers towards holidays within the UK and aboard, as well as some of the cost towards driving lessons to make live that little bit more easier.

There are some fantastic charities out there, set up to provide families parenting a child with a disability advice and in some cases financial support. Its just finding them that seems to be the problem for some. Those listed above are just a handful, there are many others available to help and you may be able to find the right service for you by visiting the one of these online directories…
Funder Finder
Living Made Easy For Children

Be A Smart Shopper And Save Money

15 Oct

“I need to cut back on stuff for a bit. Just in till I’ve gotten myself back on my feet.”

“I’m just being careful with the pennies over the next few months to ensure I’ve got enough money for our family holiday!”

The two statements above are ones I’ve heard all too often. Would It be wrong to assume that those reading this have stated one of the above or at least something along them lines. If you haven’t then I’m impressed! Your smart!

You, see saving money should never be a short term goal! It should be a way of life, one that isn’t a chore to undertake. A depressive process that makes us feel restricted and starved of some of life’s pleasures. It should be easy, yet rewarding… Something we do without thinking about it. Bottom line is… Saving money should be a normality.

Changes may need making, though not all will need to be grand or life changing. In fact, we find its a collection of the smallest things that amount to the most significant savings.

Budget planning and careful documentation of finances has provided me with the proof that small changes, even if it means a few switch over of services, can actually amount to some long term substantial savings.

So., why listen to me? Admittedly I’m no well known money saving adviser! What I am is a mother to three children who is extra vigilant with her income.

My eldest son is on the autism spectrum and is registered disabled. I’m therefore his full time carer and this means that other than the benefits we we get including Carers Allowance, we have no other means.

I help other parents of children with autism to get the services they require whether it be educational or personal and do so on a voluntary basis. For this reason I’ve also got an extensive collection of tips and info on ways these families can save money and gain access to services. I’ve incorporated some of this information within this post.

Household Utilities

Energy Bills: If like myself you are on a Pre-pay meter for your gas, electric or even both, you maybe feeling a little ticked off with the constant need to top up your key or card. However, Not having unexpected bills or unpaid direct debits is appealing and was my motivation for opting for Pre-pay meter in the first place. Nonetheless, pre-pay may seem the safest option but in actual fact isn’t the most cost efficient.

Weigh up your options between Pre-Pay and Monthly billing to see what works best for you. Call or visit your service providers website for information and policies on switching from Pre-pay to billing!

Don’t be afraid to switch providers if you find a better deal elsewhere. Shopping around is always a must and should always be done before any signing on any dotted line.

If you find a better deal, give your current provider the chance to match this in order to keep your custom.

Important: Don’t act harshly! Wait till the end of November when all providers should have already updated new prices following any decisions to raise this winters energy prices.

In the meantime, keep bills lower by trying some of these quick tips…

Replace normal light bulbs with the long life energy efficient type.

Never live off your emergency credit. Usage is automatically more expensive per day. You will find that as soon as your on the emergency, electricity and gas is consumed at a much faster rate than if you were not.

If your not a home owner check with council, housing association or landlord if your able to apply for loft or wall cavity insulation. A number of energy suppliers are actually offering both its costumers and non costumers free loft and wall cavity insulation (links will be provide in reference section located at the bottom of the post).

Remember that the DWP automatically send cold whether payments to families on certain benefits such as disability living allowance. Payments are applicable when the weather is recorded to be an average of zero degrees Celsius over seven consecutive days.

The elderly, those with a disability (including a family member) or families caring for someone suffering from an illness may be able to receive greater discounts up to £130.00 from their suppliers under the home-care support programme.

The EDF energy trust, an independent charity can provide grants to low income families receiving certain benefits. (You must be a customer of one of their boards to apply.) The charities focus is on improving poverty by providing help in the way of grants to clear debts of gas and electricity as well as other household debts. The charity also provide grants to those in need of essential items such as appliances.

Mobile phone billing:

Those on contracts who don’t use all their data or call/text allowance should consider requesting that they change their call plan and therefore reduce the cost of their bill for the remainder of the contract. After all why pay for a service you are not using?

Those using iPhone or other smart phones should take advantage of certain apps available to them. Many Apps allow you to send text and multi media to fellow app users. This does only work with an Internet connection but if you use your wifi it does practically make it free saving you a fair bit of money.

Sometimes however, its just better to opt for pay as you go. Most mobile providers offer great deals and bundles such as bolt Ons and family and friends (call certain family and friends who’s numbers you have registered on your plan, free of charge). Basically by opting for pay as you go you can only use your phone when its topped up therefore avoiding any huge scary phone bills.

Sometimes you will find that your mobile provider offers services for home phone and broadband and vis-vesa. They will usually be happy to give you a quote. Given that you are an existing costumer to one of their services, discounts are offered and are usually very good. This really worked out well for me and made the accounts so much easier to manage.

Say No to 0870 is a great website that searches for alternatives to high cost numbers such as 0870 & 0845 by listing their equivalent geographical number. Using this site has saved me a fortune.

Shopping:

Food and daily essentials…
If possible shop online! Don’t stay loyal to one retailer/supermarket but instead be sure to go with the one offering you the best deals. Many offer huge discounts for first time shoppers and I’ve had fun trying them all out.

Be sure to search for the best deals via a comparison website. Also check out one of the many voucher code sites or apps where you can find some fantastic voucher and promo codes that could greatly reduce your shopping bill.

Be sure to take advantage of store loyalty cards and those odd money off coupons you took from the mornings newspaper.

Try to buy certain products in bulk, especially if you find an discount or offer being run on a product you use on a regular bases. Bulk buying may cost more at the time but will certainly save you money in the weeks to follow.

Shopping for other items such as clothing, toys, homewear, electrics and more….

Again scan the Internet for all the latest discounts and introductory offers. Big costly items should be fully researched via review sites, blogs and forums. This way you have a better idea about the product and may even change your mind for an alternative. Be sure to have covered every corner of the web before committing to payment of your purchase.There is nothing worse than later discovering that fabulous deal you missed out on.

Be sure to use a reputable comparison site to find the best price available. Always read T&C before committing to a transaction. This will highlight any hidden extras and charges before you hand over your money.

If your also a bit of a giver you can also donate to a chosen charity without actually sending a penny extra. Just use a platform such as the one provided by ‘Give as you live‘ to enter your chosen store.The greater your spend on an item the more taken from the final sale price and donated to your chosen charity. What’s great is its free, your not spending more than you planned yet your still able to feel good about yourself.

I myself am a huge bargain hunter and love a good charity shop. Other places you may find a good quality homeware, clothing and more include… Jumble sales, bootfairs, high street and online sales, eBay, clothes swapping sites and best of all freecycle. Everything added to the site is free to local collectors. I’ve had some amazing items from vintage lighting to my garden fence.

What’s important here is not to rush into any big purchase decisions! Explore all options and buy with confidence. Also remember that sometimes the more expensive products are cheaper in the long run. It may be more expensive but may last longer and therefore provide better value for money.

Travel – Train, Coach etc…

I’m off to bristol this Saturday with my 10 year old daughter her best friend and my mum. Trying to get the best fare didn’t exactly go as smoothly as I’d first hoped and I quickly discovered the horrifying prices attached to rail travel (even that of advance tickets). After lots of ramaging and much online reading I started to get wiser as I began to discover how to play the travel provider at their own game.

Firstly the earlier you book the better (12 weeks is recommended for best priced tickets)

Use a fare finder like the trainline or red spotted hanky. You can get anything up to 80% discounted from your fare.

It’s great if your flexible as you will often be shown cheaper options for one maybe two dates either side of the original date you had opted for.

Split ticketing. Basically find out the stops on your trains route and then try splitting the fare but not the travel. You simple search for return tickets to the station normally around half way to your destination. Then again search for returns from the halfway mark to the final destination. For some its cut the fare down by half. You end up with double the tickets but the journey remains the exact same… Just ensure the train does stop at the halfway mark to make it work. You don’t even need to get off the train.

Remember sometimes its cheaper to get two singles as opposed to a returned ticket. Apps like the red spotted hanky will show you the best option out of the two.

If you travel on the train a lot as a family or with friends I’ve discovered it’s much better to buy a family and friends rail card for around £26.00 per year. This will get adults up to 30% of their travel and 60% off the child price when you travel together. Family and friends rail cards can even be used in conjunction with most reduced price ticketing and promotions therefore saving you a significant amount of money.

Note: If you are caring for a family member with a disability you can get them to apply for a disability pass from their local council which entitles them to free travel in and around london.

For longer journeys its worth looking at a disabled person railcard which cost £20 for the year and entitles the person with the disability plus an adult companion upto 30% each of their travel.

Family Days Out…

If you and the family are planing a day out which requires you to use the train, london southeastern run all year round offers that give you 2 for 1 entrance at many top attractions if travelling by train.

Families consisting of Pre-school children should consider visiting attractions on certain days around term time. These dates are always cheaper and many attractions offer special price packages for families with toddlers.

If planning a family trip to an attraction during term times advance booking online and collection of tickets at the gate often results in reduced prices.

If you visit attractions more than once per year many places offer annual family passes. In most cases you can buy these at a good reduced price if purchasing on a day you’ve already been visiting the attraction. However this means you have to buy them before leaving the park when many families feel they have simply spent enough.

Always check prices for children with disabilities. These will often come under concessions and many places offer a reduced ticket rate for carers.

Most cinemas are part of a programme that entails a carer of a disabled person who is buying a cinema ticket, a complementary ticket free of charge. Those with disabilities must have a CEA card which cost around £5 and can be ordered online.

Now, I could go on and on all night. After all we haven’t even touched on insurance policies, banking and more. But I guess I’ll have to save this for another time.

Below you will find a reference section with links to some of the services I’ve mentioned above. If any families of a disabled child are reading this please look out for a post I will be publishing later on in the week. This will provide a list of some charitable organisations providing assistance to families of children with certain disabilities and special needs.

REFERENCE SECTION

SMART PHONE APPS TO SAVE YOU MONEY… If you have a smart phone be smart and use it to save money.

WhatsApp: Free messenger (iTunes price 69p) Send text, picture, audio & video. Twitter handle @WhatsApp

IUU: Free Messenger free to download.

Text Me!: Free texting of SMS and IM style messages. Free to download.

Energy bills

Cold Weather payments from Direct Gov

Warm-Home Discount Scheme info on Direct Gov

British Gas Free loft and wall cavity insulation

The EDF energy trust (charitable trust)

Travel Savings

National Rail railcards (RailCards)
Disabled persons Railcard
The Trainline (cheap fare search)
Red Spotted Hanky (cheap fare search)

Voucher Code Sites

vouchercodes.co.uk
moneysavingexpert.com
Savoo
vouchercloud.com

Comparison Sites
USwitch
price runner
MoneySupermarket

This post is my entry into Savoo UKs smartest shopper competition. The prize is for £10,000 a new money saving blog.

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