Wednesday, 3 September 2014

11TH-14TH SEPTEMBER FREE HERITAGE OPENING DAYS!

Explore heritage properties - some of which are not normally open to the public, for free! 
From Thursday 11th - Sunday 14th September, you can visit hundreds of venues for free.
Check out what's available in your location at Heritage Open Days.

Monday, 25 August 2014

CHECK OUT THE WHOLE OF YOUR WEEKLY SHOP BEFORE BUYING

Comparisons on your weekly shop only look at how much you could save over the whole of your shop - but this is not necessarily the cheapest way to buy your shop. If you have the time, (and nearby ready access to the main supermarkets) check the price of every item on your list using www.mysupermarket.co.uk
This where meal planning is really quite necessary!
Make a list of items for each supermarket you plan to visit and go armed with any coupons, loyalty cards and cashback or reward credit cards you may have.
This maximises your chances of really saving money on your shop.

NEED A NEW WASHING MACHINE?

 


If you need a new washing machine, I'm sure you already shop around, do your research, buy through a cashback website with a cashback or a reward credit card - but something that has been suggested to me is that we should look at the capacity of our chosen machine.
A 7.5kg washing machine saves us around 92 washes a year compared to a 5kg capacity machine, thus saving electricity, water (and sewage charges), detergent and fabric conditioner!

Thursday, 7 August 2014

HAVE YOUR CAKE AND EAT IT!

When you make a cake (or bring a bought cake home) slice it up into sensible portions and store in an airtight cake box. This makes sure that you control the portion sizes and not (a greedy) someone else in your household!

Saturday, 12 July 2014

MAKE YOUR OWN CARDBOARD LOGS FOR FREE

Thinking about logs for the woodburning stove in the middle of July may seem weird, but as we all know, frugality needs forward planning!
I've been saving all the cardboard tubes from my kitchen rolls and they are all stashed behind the settee - and, no I'm not going to show you a picture!
I only use about one kitchen roll a week, but we use about 2-3 cardboard logs each time we light the fire, so as the winter wears on I may have to also resort to using toilet roll holders, but they're bit small though, and probably burn a bit quicker.
Anyway to get to the making of the logs - just ram your cardboard tubes tightly with scrap paper or newspaper (I use all the stuff I would normally have to shred). They burn longer of course, the more paper you push in. You need something with a longish handle to really ram the paper hard down and I use an old ice cream scoop - the type that are made from one piece of metal not the squeezy handle types!
These paper logs help get the fire started (especially if you have don't have much kindling) and will also burn for a fairly long time. 

Friday, 2 May 2014

CHECK OUT POUND SHOPS FOR BRAND NAME COSMETICS

 £1!
Keep an eye on your local pound shop for brand name cosmetics and toiletries. Alongside the "no-name" stuff there's often a few really good quality brands! Rimmel, Revlon and Maybelline can sometimes be found at the bargain price of just £1.
These brands are not always in store and can sell out quickly when they are - just pop in on a regular basis and you're sure to find a bargain sooner or later!

SAVE YOUR SMALL CHANGE!

 
RANDOM MONEY-SAVING TIP NUMBER 45

It's a fact that one in three British people actually throw away their loose change - unbelievable! Save your small change in a large jam jar and you'll have a nice little bonus to spend on something nice when you finally empty it out and bank it! I have a 20p saver and an old tin to save 5ps in and it wasn't long before I had £25 worth of coins to bank.
Don't use supermarket coin sorting and counting machines - they take a cut of your cash! Just ask your bank for a few (free) money bags, check the printed instructions on the front which will tell you how many coins you can put in a bag - and you're all set! 
You will have to pay the coins into your bank account - very few banks will just change the coins up for you now, and remember, some have a limit of 5 bags per transaction.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

USE DOGGY BAGS?

If you use doggy bags for your pooch's poo, then don't buy the expensive ones from pet stores. Supermarket nappy bags work out much cheaper at around 12p per 100 - and smell nice too!

WATCH TV FOR FREE WITH YOUR TESCO CLUBCARD

Watch TV programmes for free with your Tesco Clubcard. Clubcard TV is a free online service offering films, box sets, drama, cartoons, animation and more.
You will need to watch through a smart TV, your lap-top connected to a standard TV, a computer or other digital streaming device (ipad, smartphone etc).

GARDEN WEEDS? MAKE YOUR OWN SAFE (CHEAP) WEEDKILLER!

If, like me, you have weeds already coming up everywhere in your garden- paving slabs, walls, shingle driveways and paths - then you need this safe weedkiller. Just 3 cheap ingredients and a spray bottle are all you need. Cost is minimal - my vinegar was 0.96p for 1 litre, salt was 0.29p for the whole container pictured above and the washing-up liquid works out at less than 0.2p for a tablespoon! I did buy a spray bottle, though (0.69p). So my total cost for this weedkiller was around £1.96!
Just put a heaped tablespoon of salt into a spray bottle with a tablespoon of washing-up liquid and fill up with distilled vinegar. Shake well and don't worry if it foams up - this will subside later and you can then top up your spray bottle completely with vinegar.
Label your bottle - (a CD pen or other permanent marker is ideal).
Spray on your weeds on a dry sunny day and leave them to wither. If it's forecast to rain you should wait and do your spraying another day, as you want quite a few hours for the weedkiller to work before it gets washed off!
One word of caution, this weedkiller will kill weeds and any other plants it comes into contact with - that makes it fairly unsuitable to treat weeds in flowerbeds as it will be almost impossible to avoid your plants!
Happy frugal gardening!

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

MORE FREE THINGS TO DO THIS EASTER HOLIDAYS


Want things to do for free in the Easter holidays? Take a look at these websites to get some great ideas.
Do Free Stuff
This site is not all that easy to navigate, but if you click on your country along the top, then click your county in the green box top centre, to find free things to do in your county.
Woodland Trust
Find your nearest wood and take a lovely long walk! This time of year you should see bluebells and wood anemones and the website has suggestions of what to do once you're there and what events may be on.
50 Things to do
The National Trust's site with suggestions for 50 things to do before you're eleven and three-quarters. They have a search box to find nearest places to you and you can download the poster of the full list of activities. Whilst most are free, some activities will cost something to do. 
Happy Frugal Easter!

Monday, 7 April 2014

FREE EASTER ACTIVITIES FOR THE KIDS!

 


Easter is here and what better fun than to embrace the whole spring theme with some free Easter activities from Aldi - yes, the home of really good, cheap stuff is giving away some really good, useful stuff - free!
There are printable pdf Easter activities sheets for colouring, an easter Bunny mask, a maze game and all the stuff you need (colourful signs, clues etc) for a fun Easter egg hunt.
Happy frugal Easter!

Friday, 4 April 2014

ROASTED SQUASH SEEDS TO NIBBLE

When you've prepared a Butternut Squash and scooped out all those seeds, you can roast them with a little oil and nibble them for a nutritious snack!
Wash the seeds, removing any stringy bits, pat dry with kitchen paper, toss with olive oil and a little salt, spread out on a lined baking sheet and roast at 135 degrees C for around 15 minutes or until you hear them pop. Cool and store in an airtight container. Yum!

NEW PRESCRIPTION PRICE RISE

The cost of a prescription has risen on the 1st April 2014 (no joke!) from £7.85 to £8.05 for each item. This will impact on everyone who still pays for their own prescriptions and is quite difficult to afford for those who have several items a month.
If you are on permanent regular medication, and have more than one item a month it could save you quite a bit of money to buy a prepay certificate for 12 months (£104) or 3 months (£29.10). More information on how to apply for this prepay certificate is on this NHS website. Unfortunately, as of today, the NHS have not updated their website to reflect the latest price rise, but it does still explain how to apply. Your local pharmacy may also be able to advise you on your application.
But, check before you go ahead, that you don't qualify for free prescriptions. You may be in receipt of certain benefits, check here to see which of these would qualify you for free prescriptions. Prescriptions are free for those under 16 years or 60 years or over and those with certain medical conditions, if you are 16-18 years old and in full-time education, if you are pregnant or have a child under 12 months old, if you have a war pension exemption certificate, if you're an NHS inpatient or if you live in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.
Lastly, if the prescribed item is available over the counter, don't be afraid to ask your pharmacist if it's cheaper for you to just buy it and not use the prescription!

Thursday, 13 March 2014

CHARITY SHOP BARGAIN! OLD SCARF - UPCYCLED TO NEW INFINITY SCARF

Another charity shop bargain! For just £1.99 I've bought a very long, very silky soft, very warm scarf in gorgeous green, beige and white (although when I bought it I thought it was cream but a good wash changed all that!) and I've undone all the matted, tatty fringing and carefully sewn the two ends together to make an infinity scarf - great for all those freezing cold days!
BEFORE
AFTER
It goes around my neck twice slouchily and three times quite tightly - but that's for the really Arctic weather. Fortunately we are having some dry, seasonally sunny weather in the south east of England at the moment, so my new creation is stowed away ready for next winter!

PREPARING FOR FRUGAL ALLOTMENT SOWING

Save your cardboard toilet roll holders and plastic meat trays (the latter well washed of course!) to sow your seeds. No need to transplant later- just put the whole tube in the ground and it will disintegrate as the plant grows.
I've used these tubes successfully for runner beans and sweetcorn in the past and I'm now trying out parsnip seeds in them, 3 to each tube, then I'll keep only the strongest seedling, leaving it in the tube and then planting out - still in the tube. 
This was a tip recommended in a gardening magazine and, as parsnips are hard to get to germinate, I thought I'd give it a go. Nothing to see yet, but our nights are still chilly and the parsnips are in an unheated conservatory. I'll let you know what happens!

Thursday, 6 March 2014

WRONG PRICES ON THE SUPERMARKET SHELF!

How often do you check your grocery shopping receipt - and would you know what price was actually on the supermarket shelf anyway? I wouldn't! 
But isn't it all done by the supermarket computer database? Well, yes it is, but the information has to be entered and updated by a human and this is where errors must occur.
I recently popped into my local supermarket just to buy the ingredients for my Frugal Chocolate Valentine's Heart Gift and on this occasion I was only buying a few items and was keen to price check my recipe before buying! 
One of my items was a pouch of Maltesers priced on the shelf at £1.88 - I was happy with that and paid at the checkout. But as I walked away it occurred to me that my 4 or 5 items had come to a bit more than I had roughly calculated - the Maltesers had gone through the scanner at £2.09, not £1.88 as per the shelf price. Now, I know it's only 21p, but the principle is that if the shelf price is wrong, then we are being misled and how many other times does that happen when we have a huge trolley full and checking it all would be impossible?
Anyway a trip to the customer service desk resulted in the shelf price being checked, my 21p being refunded and a £2 gift card being given to me as an apology - win/win!

TAX FREE SAVINGS!

RANDOM MONEY-SAVING TIP NUMBER 44

If you aren't an income tax payer make sure you get all the interest on your savings, tax free (not just on your ISA savings) by asking your building society or bank for form R85. 
Fill in and return to ensure you are not taxed on your meagre interest!

Saturday, 15 February 2014

FRUGAL VALENTINE'S GIFT!

Valentine's Day comes around quicker than ever and catches me out with not an idea in my head as to what to buy (make?) for my other half!
Chocolate is always a popular choice with us both, but in previous years, shop bought offerings have been a bit, well - mediocre. You know what I mean - a red or gold shiny box, a red bow, a red foil covered small, hollow heart inside that is made from 100g of cheap chocolate and all for around a fiver!
So, I racked my brains, looked at the confectionery aisle in my local supermarket and came up with this home-made offering!
This is a solid plain chocolate heart, measuring about 21cm (around 8") across, studded with Maltesers around the edge, a few chocolates in the middle, sprinkled with white and milk chocolate cake decorations and drizzled with the scrapings out of the bowl - yum! (and yes, I did leave myself some to lick out!).
The whole thing weighed in excess of 250g and my other half says it is delicious!
It takes:
150g plain chocolate for the base (use milk or white if your recipient prefers)
Around 20 Maltesers
Small bag of chocolates (mine were Thorntons, £1 from Asda - 9 in the bag but one shape was duplicated so I ate that with my coffee, all in the name of artistry!)
Small heart shaped cake decorations (had these in the cupboard left over from another recipe)
Here's how I did it:
Print out a heart from MS Word Autoshapes, cut it out and then cut round it on greaseproof paper or baking parchment. lay the heart shape on a tray. (You can skip this if you have a suitable heart shaped mould or cake tin).
Break up your base chocolate into squares and melt in a basin over a pan of hot water (I often use the microwave instead, but you must do it in small bursts or you can overcook it and ruin the chocolate).
When your base chocolate is melted and smooth, pour it onto your heart shape slowly- keep it mostly in the middle and spread out gently with a palette knife or back of a spoon to the edges of your heart shape. I thought it would run everywhere and all over the edges, but it was quite easy to control!
Gently press on your Maltesers, hearts and chocolates and then use a small spoon or piping bag to drizzle over the scrapings of chocolate from your bowl (give the bowl a quick burst in the microwave if the chocolate's cooled).
Leave in the fridge to cool completely, peel off the backing paper, wrap in cling film (or shiny cellophane if you have it - I only had Christmas stuff with snow flakes on it!), trim with a red ribbon (mine came off a Christmas card!) and you're done!
Of course, you can choose your own combination of chocolate, decoration and size of heart, too. Mine cost £3.50 (excluding the tiny hearts I already had) and all ingredients were from Asda (including Asda's own plain chocolate which we know is good, as we use it for Rocky Road!) - but it is really huge and heavy. Slightly smaller and it would still be great!
Happy Frugal Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

MAKE YOUR OWN FIRELIGHTERS

In common with many people lately, we've just acquired a wood burning stove and so I'm looking at ways to make "free stuff" to use with it! 
First up, as with any fire, you need firelighters and I've had a go at making my own (see pic) - sorry if it looks like someone's had a bad accident in an egg box, but all will become clear!
For these firelighters you need 3 ingredients: empty egg box, scrap wax and fluff from a tumble drier filter (my son offered to donate his belly button fluff, but I think not!). 
I realise the use of a tumble drier is not seen as free or even cheap - I don't use my tumble drier except in extreme circumstances so I'm going to run out of fluff, but I have a plan for a substitute* - more of that later. You may want to ask friends and family for fluff donations - from their tumble driers of course!
My wax here is the covering off Baby Bel cheeses (don't use the opening tape - it won't melt) hence the red colour, but I'm also collecting bits of old candle wax from burnt out candles (ask friends and family for these too). As I collect wax, I just pop it in to an empty baked bean can until it's full. Then I make my firelighters as follows:
  • Take an egg box and fill each section with fluff, press down firmly. 
  • Tear off the lid of the egg box and stand your fluff-filled section in it on a heat proof surface. 
  • Heat the wax in its can in a saucepan of water until it has melted - take care when you lift the can out, using a cloth or glove. 
  • Pour just enough wax on each section of your egg box to cover the fluff then allow to cool completely. Any spare wax can be left in your can for next time.
  • Cut up your firelighters into sections leaving the points you will get from each upstanding piece between the sections - these can be lit when on the fire.
We have found 2 of these firelighters are plenty to light the fire with kindling and small logs!

* I realise I will eventually need a substitute material as fluff will eventually be in short supply in my frugal household, so I'm going fir cone hunting near where I live. I usually pick these fir cones up for Christmas decorations, but my plan is to pick up those cones that may have been damaged or squashed, dry them well either around the fire or out in my porch and put those (or pieces of them), in the egg box sections instead of fluff.

Friday, 7 February 2014

MILK SAVING HACK!

RANDOM MONEY-SAVING TIP NUMBER 43
If you are making a recipe that requires milk and you don't have any or enough, then just use plain or vanilla yoghurt diluted with water - 50/50, mixed well.

RANDOM MONEY-SAVING TIP NUMBER 42

 Image result for baking powder uk

Baking!

If you need self-raising flour for a recipe and find you only have plain, then just make your own by adding baking powder and salt to the plain white flour. 
To every 100g plain flour add half a teaspoon of baking powder and a pinch of salt - easy!

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

JANUARY!

Well, January is nearly over, but if you have the January financial blues, you're not alone.
1 in 5 people start the New Year in debt from Christmas!
If you are in debt on your credit card and can't pay it all off, then switch to a 0% balance transfer credit card. 
If the 0% deal is for 18 months then divide what you owe by 18, add 2 (or more if you can) and make that your monthly payment, to ensure the debt is gone before the end of the 0% deal.
The average credit card interest rate is 18%, so on a debt of £1000 a 0% credit card would save you £180 in a year!

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

RANDOM MONEY-SAVING TIP NUMBER 41

Don't buy brand name over the counter medicines!
It has been said that the average person spends £8,500 on over the counter medicines in their lifetime! That's an awful lot of money and I suspect that many of us feel we should always buy the big name brand as it's somehow "better" or is the "correct" one to use - no, it just has more advertising, fancy packaging and higher prices.
It's fairly easy to compare - just check on the packet that the "active ingredient" is the same (and the same strength) as that is the important factor.
So here's some suggestions  for you to have a look at (prices correct at 9.12.2013) and save some money!
  • Hay fever remedies - Clarityn (Loratadine, 7 tablets) £3.15- own brand Boots equivalent is 99p, Clarityn Zirtek (cetrizine hydrochloride 10mg, 7 tablets) £3.29 - own brand Tesco equivalent is £1.
  • Indigestion remedies - Zantac relief £3.20 for 12, own brand Asda Indigestion relief £1, Gaviscon Liquid 500ml £7.20, own brand Tesco equivalent £4.25.
  • Pain killers - Nurofen (Ibuprofen) £2.10 for 16 tablets, own brand Tesco Ibuprofen 32p, Anadin (Aspirin, 32 tablets), Boots own brand 32 Aspirin is 50p.
  • Diarrhoea remedies - 12 Imodium Capsules £6.39, own brand Lloyds Pharmacy DiaFix £3.89, 6 Dioralyte sachets £3.99, own brand 6 Lloyds Pharmacy rehydration sachets £2.49.
  • Cold and 'flu remedies  - 10 sachets Lemsip Max Strength, Tesco own brand Max Strength £1.80.
The prices speak for themselves! However if you are unsure, ask the pharmacist on duty and make it clear you want the cheapest "generic" equivalent. 
Remember the cheaper alternatives may not be so easy to spot on the shelves, so do ask! There is no reason at all to pay the higher prices.