Tag Archives: Savoo

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.

Our Half Term

1 Nov

The half term hasn’t been to hectic but despite this making me sound a terrible person, I am kind of looking forward to next weeks return to school.

The toddler just becomes a monster with his siblings in the home. Little man is starting to lose his grip on routine and my daughter… Well, she seems to have developed a taste for attitude.

What’s more I just want to get stuff done and its not easy when your needing to break up your children when they are screaming in one another’s face.

Its been a long week…

I’ve also had the pending announcement of the “Uk Smartest Shopper on my mind” its seems like ages since my interview on Saturday and the suspense has been mounting. Nonetheless the children being home has more than kept the mind occupied

The day was great if not nerve wracking and this week Savoo sent me a little reminder of the day.

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Little man’s new IEP has been delivered in the post accompanied with a new timetable. This means I’ve had to prepare him for the pending changes such as the new addition to Fridays routine which is swimming. He seems really excited about this though and we are going out tomorrow so he can choose some new swimming trunks.

Last night was Halloween. Little man decided that his heighten senses would not allow for dressing up especially in a latex mask and costume that he reported made him feel fuzzy. This meant I needed to be creative and out came the face-paints. Its strange as little man used to hate the sensation of face-paint but now he loves having his face painted and yesterday I painted it as Saw (not that he knows who saw is but he liked it all the same). This also meant that he was pretty much able to wear whatever he wanted so of course it was comfortable jogging bottoms and a hoody.

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Alice, however wore a handmade creation. I love how my little girl likes to be different and having failed at making her a monsters high outfit she instead became this funky Character ….

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I love how it turned out. She wore a tutu I made with funky spiderweb material that we got from the pound shop. She teamed with a vintage scarf I picked up from a charity shop and her beloved H&M hat. I also painted her face taking inspiration from a design I saw on pinterest.

Harley the youngest of the three looked adorable dressed as Scooby Doo. This was a fantastic costume that I brought in the sale at Sainsbury’s. well worth the tenner as he can wear it for parties and other occasions. I brought it in a 3-4 years so he will get plenty of wear from it.

Yesterday was also a fun crafting day. We made everything from tissue paper wreaths to spooky batty bats that glow in the dark. Little man has never been much of a crafter but surprisingly gave a couple of the activities a go. He also helped with the decorating afterwards.

This year all except two spooky window lights were homemade.

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The toddler and Alice also had great fun making spooky finger puppets for Halloween. These were sent to us from our favourite craft supplier ‘Baker Ross‘.

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You can see how we made some of the items by visiting my sister site (mummy of many talents).

So… With Halloween now over and the kids back at school next week I’m planing on catching up with some of the other stuff I’ve got to do like the food shop and ironing… Yer life is a joy isn’t it!

Words Written By Me

28 Oct

Wow… What an incredible week its been.

First off I discover I’m one of 10 finalist for the SavooSmartest Shopper Competition” then I go on to be interviewed by four great judges in London.

The competition has a great prize attached. The prize money is generous but you are also given the opportunity to write a “Money Saving Blog” with support from Savoo.

Did I feel incredibly shocked yet incredibly excited about getting this far in the competition? God, Yes…

No matter how far I get in any sort of writing related awards or competitions I still always find that need to pinch myself and pinch myself hard.

Why? Well, there are a few reasons for this but there is one that stands out particularly!

I could say that blogging has opened many doors for me, given me something to tell the grand children (in the FAR away future) but I won’t… Instead I will say how Writing has opened such doors for me instead.

Yes, without the blog how could I do the things I’m doing? But its what goes on the blog that should be noted, after all… What’s a blog without its content.

I wrote a post a while back that spoke about my writing and the reasons why I’d never imagined myself doing what I’m doing today. You see, writing was never my thing (just read this), if anything expressing myself through written content was something I struggled with and therefore disliked immensely! I remember my English teacher telling my mother how I had this amazingly creative mind that I was just wasting by not using it to reach my full potential! Once she started that if I could just put down on paper that creative vocabulary of mine, then we could sell books. I knew even at 12 that this was sarcasm. I’d been a bit of a diva and spoken back to the teacher who was simply not impressed with what I had to say (I had detention for weeks to follow). However, she was always impressed by whatever writing I’d reluctantly produce and she did think that by continuing to write I’d open up a whole new inner passion that I never knew I had.

“Blah blah blah…” I’d think to myself as I impatiently tapped my finger nails on the desk while yawning in an exaggerated manner. Teachers were never right, not by this girls knowledge anyway! I actually remember being sat thinking “Oh stop banging on about it miss… Its Not gonna happen!”

I often sit wondering what she would say if she see me now?

I’m not claiming I’m the best writer! I never read the stuff I’ve written and think to myself wow girl… You sound amazing, go write for a living!… Though I did actually make myself cry once when reading a post id written some months after I’d first published it! My point being, I’m always immensely humbled when I receive an email from a reader complimenting my writing style. I am used to getting emails from readers claiming that I’m an inspiration for sharing my life as a parent to a child with Aspergers and sen. I’d also get those thanking me when I would help them access educational services or advise them on the education laws surrounding their child’s special educational needs. And although i’m just about getting to grips with such words, its those emails and comments that claim my writing to be anything other than bog standard that leave me shocked yet amazed.

If you had asked me as a small primary child or even a raging mad hormone infused teen, if I’d ever see myself writing in the future, and more to the point… actually enjoying it , you can be bet your house on it that I’d quickly respond with with a swift “NO” followed by a burst of giggles (the type that implies you must be insane to even ask).

What I’ve leant is… Miss Whitehead, you were right! Yes, I love to write, I do express my feelings so much better on paper, and if I could chose to do anything during my “Me Time” I’d do exactly what I’m doing now… I’d write!

Did I want to grow up and find myself writing a blog? No!

Did I ever think I’d see any of my writing published in print? No!

Did I ever dream I’d be nominated for any type of blogging awards? No!

Did I ever once think Id go on to collect a Mad blog award (inspirational) in the name of my blog “A boy with Aspergers” for not one but two consecutive years? Whatever… This one is followed by that Swift burst of giggles that again imply your craziness.

Did I ever imagine that people would read about my little self and that blog of mine in the papers? Ha-Ha-Ha… Joker!

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I’ve learnt that by combining my passions with words and sharing them through written material in whatever format I choose, I’m able to gain something back that is incredibly rewarding! That something is the knowledge that by doing something I love I’m providing others with something they relate too, laugh at, learn from, take inspiration from or simply just enjoy!

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That is something wonderful… And Its something I’m not planning on stopping… Not for a very long time.

So, whether I’m blogging about the ups and downs of parenting a child on the autism spectrum, what I’m wearing, how to make your own face mask, sharing tips on how to get the most out of eBay or simply where to get the best shoes for the littlest price, it doesn’t matter… Why?

Because each would mean nothing without the passion I hold for the things I believe in, the things I enjoy and finally the desire to translate them into words, words written by me.

Every time something amazing comes from something I’ve typed on my Mac… I go through these same motions!

Its these motions that have inspired me to blog today… Who knows what tomorrow may bring.

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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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