Sunday 26 February 2017

Saving Money whilst on Maternity Leave

Maternity leave is fast approaching, with only 6 weeks of work left for me before my maternity leave starts officially, but along with the excitement of having no work for 9/10 months, comes the financial worry of not having a steady income that we’ve been used to for the last 2 years. Since before we started trying for a baby, I’ve been saving what I can out of my monthly wage to help buy bits and bobs for the baby and also, to support me whilst I’m off on maternity leave but we’ve had to dip in and out of those savings and they’re not going to last forever so I’m trying to think of some other ways that will help us save money whilst I’m off on Maternity leave and hopefully will give you some ideas too if you’re also planning on going on maternity anytime soon.

Some people may be able to see Maternity leave through on just the basic SMP or Tax credits they have, others may need to take out a small loan from places like to help them through the month but, hopefully, using some of these nifty tricks may avoid these worries and you’ll be sailing through maternity leave like there’s no tomorrow... 

1. Loyalty cards and Store cards/Vouchers
I did a whole blog post about using store cards and vouchers such as Nectar, Clubcard, Boots card and all the other ones which you can read here but over the last year, I’ve really utilised store cards and voucher schemes like the from Nectar - you can load this up before you go shopping and it will give you extra Nectar points on certain items (like the receipts you get from the till) but also, our Nectar points are saved all year and I use them to buy Christmas eve dinner or Christmas dinner which can save us around £50-£60. We also try and buy nappies from Sainsburys as we like them anyway but it means that we’re also getting Nectar points too unlike if we were to buy them from Aldi or elsewhere. Boots is the same, you’ll be getting 10 points per £1 if you join their Babyclub! 

2. Shop around in bargain stores
It might mean an extra hour of shopping but you’re on maternity, you have all the time in the world... right!? Not quite... but it’s definitely worth it! We do our food shop in Aldi most of the time as we prefer a lot of their foods including meats and vegetables - we find they last a lot longer than other supermarkets’ do! But, we head to places like B&M and Home Bargains for everything else such as Toilet roll, Cleaning products, Cat food and litter and other little necessities just because we’ve found that it works out so much cheaper! 

3. Cut down on spending in general
I know it sounds daft but think about things you buy unnecessarily... Coffee? Chocolate when you pop to the shops? That top that’s on sale? Unnecessary spending is definitely one thing I’ll be cutting back on massively and to help me, I’ve worked out a budget for myself each week after all the outgoings have left my account and I’ll draw that money out every Monday morning and it will be my ‘pocket money’ for the week. Anything that I want will be a case of waiting and seeing if I still want it 2 or 3 days later... 

4. Bills and Credit cards
It sounds daft but, try and work out where you can cut down on your bills. If you split your household bills with your partner like I do with Adam, it might be harder to do but, we have downgraded our Sky box and saved £5 a month on that and then there’s things like credit cards and phone bills that can also be cut down by just making sure they’re paid on time! 

5. Monthy clear-outs
The one thing that comes with having a new baby is stuff. Yep, you’ll get through so many clothes, toys, accessories, baby items etc etc etc, but, you arent going to need them forever! So, at the end of each month, why not have a good clear out and have an eBay selling spree! Stick all the unwanted, unused items on eBay and make some money back from the things you either barely used or had double of! If you’re anything like us, you’ll be given loads of things anyway so you’re bound to be able to sell some things once baby is a few months old! This can also be your items too - shoes, clothes, makeup, the list is endless! 

6. Start a Hobby or Business! 
Now, this isn’t for everyone and there are obvious ties that come with starting your own business or hobby, but, if you do it properly, it may really be able to help you out when you’re on maternity leave, especially in the later months! I make my own earrings, I am also a Younique rep and I have just started my own Spray Tanning business. I don’t do them all full-time but they each bring in their own little wage each month that goes towards paying bills, the food shop or even a treat at the end of the week! You must register yourself as self-employed though if you’re selling items or starting a business but in the long run, it might really benefit you! 

Hopefully, we’ll be able to see ourselves through the (almost) full year of me being off work as I hope to return just before Easter next year but, money will be the main decider of that and if we can’t pull in enough to pay the bills then I’ll need to go back to work earlier than expected! 

The countdown is well and truly on now though... less than 10 weeks to go until I meet our little man! 
(*In collaboration with Swiftmoney)

Wednesday 15 February 2017

Guest Posting on Secret Saviours

For the last few weeks and until April, I have been guest posting over on Secret Saviours Blog. Secret Saviours is a company that is inspired by Mums and have put together products to help minimise stretch marks. Secret Saviours' Anti Stretchmark Band is their key item which is said to help reduce stretch marks by up to 70%!
I have been using the band and gels for the last few weeks and will be posting a review once baby is here of the effects it has had on me and my stretch marks and whether it has worked for me or not so stay tuned...
For the time being, go and have a read of my Guest Posts:

Sunday 12 February 2017

Getting your Garden Summer Ready

When we moved house back in October, the only downside to the whole thing was that the garden was a complete mess. I’m talking, completely overgrown, broken greenhouse, battered soil shed and a completely bodged fence. The deal was that we cleared the garden and the landlord sorted the house and thats how it went. Now we’ve been settled here for a few months, the garden is a blank slate and we’re waiting for the warmer weather to come so we can make a start on getting it to how we want it. 
We have such a big space to play with and we need to make it as child friendly as we can as Millie loves to be outside in the summer and of course, we’ll have another little one wondering around soon so everything needs to be evened out. We want half to be grass and half to be paved so we can get some furniture to sit on it. I love the look of the rattan garden sets, they’re so comfortable and perfect for entertaining too! We love having BBQ’s during the summer, Adam loves to get his grill on and Millie loves to play in her paddling pool too! I’d love a Hot Tub in the garden too but I just don’t think we’d use it as much as I’d like to once baby is here... Maybe that’s something for next year? 

Millie’s Wendy house needs to be put back up too when the weather improves, we dismantled it when we moved house and because of it being close to winter, thought we would leave it until the spring to set up again. I’d love to redecorate that for her and paint it inside to make it more homely but I’d like to get our space settled first. Fishpools have some lovely pieces of furniture and accessories for the garden so we may be buying a few bits to help us get started from their sale section as we need some storage for toys and bikes! Just look at the progress we’ve made from moving in back in October... The garden was honestly such a state that we wondered if we’d ever be able to sort it! 

Adam wants to get a little vegetable patch set up in the top corner of the garden too and I love the look of the raised beds - we’d need to get a cover because of the cats and birds we get in the garden but I think Millie would love to plant some vegetables and grow them. It’s so easy to do and we definitely have the space it’s just getting it done in time for summer! 

If money wasn’t an issue, I’d love to do so much to our garden, just look at pinterest and you can see how beautiful some people make their gardens and of course, I’d definitely have my hot tub and one of these gorgeous day beds too! Imagine lying in the summer, drink in hand and BBQ on in that! Absolute BLISS! 

Take a look at the work we’ve done so far and some of the ideas I’ve come across to get our garden looking exactly how I want it to and hopefully we can start looking at the garden furniture we really want... 
(*Sponsored post)

Sunday 5 February 2017

Slimming World Eats: Easy Chilli Con Carne

It’s not getting any warmer is it?! So I thought what better way to warm our tummies than to whip up a Slimming World Friendly, Chilli Con Carne and share the recipe with you all! 

You can serve this just like I did with a portion of rice and salad or skip the rice and make it SP with a massive helping of salad and vegetables. You can also bulk out the recipe with more speed foods like mushrooms, peppers and a variety of beans. For this though, I’ve stuck to the basic recipe I use whenever I make a Chilli and it tastes pretty damn good too! 

Slimming world Chilli con carne

500g 5% Fat Mince
Fry light (if you’re using a pan)
1 Large Onion chopped
1 Garlic clove chopped into small pieces
400g tin Kidney beans drained
1/2 tsp Paprika
1/2 tsp Cumin
1tsp Chilli Powder
1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
800g Chopped Tomatoes
1 tbsp Tomato Puree 
1 Beef stock cube 
200ml Boiling water

Step 1: Spray your pan with fry light and add your chopped Onions, Garlic and Mince and fry lightly until Mince is browned. 

Step 2: Add your spices and Kidney beans and mix well (don’t throw your tin away!). 

Step 3: Add the tomatoes and puree and mix well.

Step 4: Add 200ml boiling water and your stock cube to the kidney beans tin and fill approx. half way. Stir and then add the stock into the pan. Stir well and leave to simmer for 15minutes. 

One of the good things I love about this recipe too is that you can bash all the ingredients together into a slow cooker or use a saucepan/hob and let it simmer for a while. Our oven/hob at the new house is brilliant, it heats up super quick and even though it’s electric, the temperature alters really quickly too so you don’t have to worry about burning anything. Belling range cookers UK have a gorgeous range of cookers if you’re looking to update your kitchen to fit in with your new Slimming World-I’m going to cook everything from scratch- lifestyle so go take a look! 

Leaving the mixture to simmer will help soften the kidney beans and will thicken the mixture. If you like your Chilli to be quite runny, add another 100ml of water or alternatively, leave to simmer for less time. I like to have mine quite thick and juicy as the tomatoes help to give it a lovely juicy texture anyway but if you find it’s too thick, just do this. 

As I said above, serve with whatever you fancy but I tend to go with a bit of salad and some boiled rice, sometimes with a lashing of sour cream or guacamole... Enjoy all of this completely free of syns (although I can’t control what you eat after this...)

Slimming world Chilli con carne

Slimming world Chilli con carne

(*Sponsored post)

Thursday 2 February 2017

Getting Organised for Baby Number 2

I'm creeping up to the 30 week mark, over half way through and things are starting to get real! As for everything that comes with having a baby (the money saving/spending, buying of clothes, research of symptoms, more buying of clothes, desperation of wanting everything to be perfect etc. etc.) I like to think that I'm quite on top of things - we moved house back in October out of a tiny 2 bed into a massive 3 bed which means that Baby Boy will have his own room and it's given us space to stash everything we've bought up until now too! Whereas, with Millie, there were boxes everywhere! We only had room for a chest of drawers for her clothes and they were stashed in every nook and cranny we could find in the flat but... we made it work.

Although I'm super happy that he will have his own space and own room, I do wish that we had that extra bit of space for ourselves to either turn into an office space or even just as a place to organise our lives and jobs! Adam works as a Personal Trainer and I have my Earring making alongside my blog work - it'd be a great space to work and get a snazzy computer. There is some fabulous Office furniture from Furniture at Work that would work so well for us both in there as it's quite a small room, we'd need to be clever with the space and how we'd use it. But for now, until (if we ever) we move out into a bigger house that has an office space, it will be little mans' den and I'm looking forward to sprucing it up for him! We've gone for a Lime Green and Grey theme with lots of Clouds and Stars plastered over blankets, beddings and pictures!

An interesting infographic that states how, apparently, our Star signs have something to say about just how organised we can be... Like I said, I'd like to think that I'm pretty on top of things - we have his furniture bought and just need to make it, all of this clothes are bought (probably for the next 6 months!!) we have his Moses basket and bedding and even his bottles for if I decide to bottle feed, but lets have a look to see what it says...


I'm a Capricorn - so according to this then yes it's right and no it's not... I'm "Ahead of the game" but not because that's how I want to be, because someone else has done it! If only!
What did your star sign say about you?! You can view the complete infographic here!
(*Sponsored post)