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Friday, 21 July 2017

This Week's Money Saving Tips

Topcashback! Yes, when I joined years ago I was convinced it was a gimmick, but years later I have pocketed £500 in Amazon, and High street vouchers, so I promise you it is not a gimmick.
Basically, you look for a retailer on their site, click through, make purchase, and hey presto the cashback will track within hours and be payable within weeks.
You can get cashback on Uswitch, insurance, groceries, shoes, clothes, lots of things really! This weekend they are offering. £2.50 bonus for a purchase of £10 or more after VAT. Check it out!

Now, it is the school holidays, and often home educators take a break around now. I find there is a tendency in some to think that children need to be entertained perpetually to stop boredom, but it is important they have their own freedom, and chance to develop creativity. Here are some ideas for free, or close to free things to do:
1) Check out your local woods and country parks. These are often free.
2) Take up cycling, it will keep everyone fit!
3) Set up an obstacle course in the garden, or plan a route at the park.
4) Check out free areas and places to visit, also don't forget clubcard vouchers can pay for fee paying places.
5) We put up a badminton net in the garden when it isn't windy.
6) Before you visit anywhere check online for free, or discount tickets or events.

Oh, and almost forgot, walking! I love it, and like to discover new places. Check out the footpaths on an ordinance survey map. Who knows what you might discover, plus you can teach mapskills. Take a compass, too. (I should heed the last advice, as I have been known to get very lost!

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Home Educating Highschool

Some of us become daunted when we reach the highschool years with our childrenšŸ˜‰. (Ok, well, maybe all of us actually!) It can seem quite daunting, as qualifications seem to be the be all and end all, but let's be honest, schools have got a pretty bad record of students getting good grades at GCSE, so school is NOT a guarantee of getting good grades, even if you send them to the £12,000 a year school down the road. From what I have gleaned in my experience teaching in school and out; the parents are the key factor as to whether or not the child fails. There is no way a class teacher can devote the one to one attention that children sometimes need, and this is still important even in the high school years. Even my son in college is finding that the tutors can only help so much, the rest is up to him, and that is why it is so important that we instill in our children a love of learning, and teach them how to learn independently. This is an important discipline that most haven't encountered until they reach university, and then they feel they have been dropped in the deep end.

So, my aim is by age 11 the children are capable of learning independently, meaning that they can follow books, and courses of study themselves. I find this gives them the opportunity to see what subjects they enjoy, and therefore they tend to concentrate on those in the last years. One of my sons is doing Electronical Engineering,and by age 14 he had decided that was what he wanted to do. Home education gave him the freedom to tinker, and use different computer programmes, and gadgets learning more about electronics.
Two of the others were not so keen on academic study, so they are working in hospitality, as that is where they feel they have been led. They still have a keen interest in film making, and of course the other also in writing. I know if they had the chance to do a job where those elements were involved they would jump at it.

So, this year I have a 14, and 12 year old in the high school pre exam years, and our main focus is Key stage three English and Maths. Now I am very familiar with the exams I know what we are aiming for, as they at least want to take English and Maths. As for the three exam students, yes, I am marking mock papers which I don't enjoy, but boy is it worth it when they get the grades they aimed for! It makes it all worthwhile, and remember there is no pressure to take exams, unless they want to go to university.....and to be honest, even my engineering son has found a way around university. Unless you want to be a medical doctor, nurse or lawyer etc I can't see the point. I definitely believe a degree is not worth now what it was worth in the 1980's or 90's. It is ridiculous some of the subject areas you can get degrees in now.

Friday, 14 July 2017

My Money Saving Ideas this Week

This week the Clark's sale is good. I tend to buy Clark's as it is the only brand that withstands the miles my kids run, jump, and walk every week! I always top up in the sale, and with 60% off what's not to love?
Sales are good for anything really, and if with good planning a fortune can be saved.
My next tip may sound odd, but here's the deal; I buy at least one item every week for the children's stockings. That way it not only spreads the cost of Christmas, saves money, and saves the rush! I bought stuff from a closing down sale 75% off, and other sale stuff you won't see in winter. Poundland has different stock as well, so it ensures you have a large variety. Just don't put it away and forget, though! I did that one year. Now, I put away in shoe boxes, and put aside, as many of the items are small like notebooks, paints, pens etc

Saturday, 8 July 2017

This Week's Food shop Money saving ideas

If you shop online for groceries, and you haven't already, then do register with mysupermarket. If you have a smartphone and don't shop online it can still save money. Mysupermmarket allows you to compare all the supermarkets, and other shops as well. One of the best ways of saving money on this is to check out the top offers, as I find even I miss stuff when I don't do this.You can also see what the same basket would cost at another supermarket.

Next is to set up alerts for your favourite brands, then they will tell you at what shop they are on offer in. That way I never pay full price for my brands. For me this might be cereal, certain coffee, tea, and frozen fish Another thing they offer is cashback if you buy certain items. So far I have claimed moved £100!

It will also give you ideas to save money on certain products, now sometimes it is totally crazy, as it will suggest silly swaps, but often the swaps have been invaluable and I would have missed them.

Oh, and finally.....if you are like us and used to buy Dolmio,
Uncle Ben's and various other tomato based sauces you may find it a huge money save to buy pasatta and packets of chopped tomatoes instead. With the appropriate seasoning; basil for bolognaise,and chilli for chilli you can make the same dishes while saving a lot of money AND added sugar. You would be horrified to know that the sauces in jars of contain several teaspoons of sugar per jar. Now I always keep loads in stock meaning I can make lasagne, bolognaise, meatballs, curry, and chilli easily. The white sauce on lasagne is made using milk heated and adding cold milk and cornflour to thicken.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Saving Money on Weekly Food Shop

Just a couple of ideas this week. I love trying to look for bargains, and look for new ways to save money.
I sent my daughter to Lidl to buy two free range chickens and two chocolate cakes- the cakes I wanted for our Sunday dinner treat. The cost was around £12, if she had gone to the Tesco next door it would have come to at least £19. That is a whopping £7 saving, and the chickens do us for two meals. Stew on the second day, and it enables you to use almost going to waste veg.
Another big saver I have is potatoes. If we bought washed potatoes from the supermarket it would cost us a fortune, and in this weather they go off! We buy potatoes by the 25kg sack from a local farm, and they cost around £6 each. Usually you would only get three 2kg bags for that at supermarket. That is a saving of around £16! As we go through a sack a month that is a £4 a week saving! Combine that with the chicken and cakes and I have saved £11 Save that every week for a year, and you are getting on for a £560 saving. That could buy a new fridge, or washing machine.
Granted, you can't always get farm potatoes, but when my farmer is out of stock I get it from the greengrocer. Just cos you don't see them doesn't mean he doesn't sell them.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Large Family Feeding- Sticking to a budget

Long time since am posted on food budgets, and now food prices on the rise it is time to share again!
Here are some tips for feeding a family for less.
1) Always plan meals a week ahead. (Doesn't have to be 100% rigid.)
2) Don't go to the same supermarket every week.
3) Do have a realistic budget in mind of what you can afford.
4) Do use leftovers.
5) Do make use of coupons, and often shops online will send money off vouchers. I have sometimes got as much as £20 off.
6) Register for price alerts on My Supermarket, to get your favourites for half price.
7) Don't waste money on snack food, it isn't necessary, in fact in the seventies when I was growing up I never had snacks. Too expensive! If you were hungry you had toast, fruit, or a sandwich.
8) Look out for the three for £10 meats.

Firstly, I look at my meal plan, which is different every month. I try to plan no more than 4 red meat meals in a week, and then maybe one veggie meal. The rest is fish, or chicken.
Two free range chickens from Aldi cost under £12 and feed our family of 12 for two days. The second day I make a stew, and that uses vegetables that might otherwise go off.
A couple of packets of pasatta will do for lasagne, bolognaise, chilli, etc, and cost fraction of the price. For the white sauce just heat some milk, and in jug mix cornflour and milk- add when heated, and you have white sauce.
A pressure cooker will cook casserole meat, so you can have tender in 30 minutes for curry, or whatever.

Keep stuff simple. I find sophisticated costs much more. You can make mash in different forms eg for diabetics with sweet potato, for more interest add cheese, or just add carrot, and swede. Brown rice is versatile and you only need around 40g dried per person. Don't make mistake of making too much rice, as it is dangerous to reheat for leftovers!

With breakfast cereals, I buy the cheapest packet porridge, and put in tub. I buy the 3 for £3 mixes, and the shop generic weetabix. You can save big by not buying brands! I only buy brands when half price.

Bread is the basics range, or middle range. Morrisons do wholemeal for 48p a loaf, and it is good.Tesco, and Sainsbury for around 60p.

We only drink tea, green tea, coffee and water. Ready done drinks are empty calories. No fruit juices, as they are not healthy.

Cheese and dairy is the basics range, and the Asda cheddar mature cheese is really good.

Waitrose toilet rolls are superb. I buy the Essential Waitrose and get 20% off with My Waitrose offers.

We don't buy snack food. We do buy biscuits, and these are the non branded as a rule. If the children are hungry they have toast, or a sandwich. This might contain cheese, paste, jam, or fish. Crisps are once a week, and never branded. Aldi does good multipack crisps.

Dessert might be a slice of Vienetta (bought on offer) a donut, a cookie, piece of cake, greek yoghurt, chocolate bar. Rarely branded. Morrisons do a great generic version of Mars bars. They call them Apollo. Also cheaper to bake your own. We make home made birthday cake, pancakes, scones etc.

The market is sometimes the best place for fruit and veg. It really depends on the time of year. Look out for Barnes Stores as they sell outdated brands for a quarter of the price.

If you shop at Morrisons or Ocado online you get 'flash sales', and it is worth signing in daily when you have an order to see what changes! I have got half price organic fruit and veg boxes, steaks, chicken, and loads of other good stuff, and unlike the supermarket the date is still good.

Above all, the most important thing when planning food, and buying is that you are getting plenty of protein in, you don't need massive carb quantities. A wholemeal pack of spaghetti serves all 12 of us. Try adding lentils, quinoa, beans etc for extra protein. Best fast food ever- free range eggs!
I make my own wedges with potatoes, which I buy from the farm by the sack. (last long and a fraction of washed potato price) Just stir in rapeseed oil and bake in oven. I do a sweet potato one for the diabetic.

Frozen food is cheaper than fresh, and doesn't go off. Meat can be cheaper, too.

Toiletries are all paraben free, eco, and SLS free. I wait for offers and stock up. I recently got Method washing liquid at Tesco for £4 and that does 39 washes. Don't need conditioner with that as it smells too good!
Faith in nature shampoo. I wait for offers, and recently got half price at the Ocado half price sale. (An immense benefit of having an Ocado delivery pass! My only splurge. )
Also, if you get groceries online most will have a £1 slot, and Sainsbury delivers for free if you spend over £100 after 2:pm Monday to Thursday.

Finally, if you are wanting, or needing to trim your weekly spend watch for unnecessary items. You would be surprised! Also, what do you waste? We have a zero waste policy here. Remember a best before date can be ignored.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

My Election Ditty inspired by Dr Seuss

I do not trust this Corbyn bloke,
I think his party quite a joke.
Some things sound rather good,
but do you really think he could?

He promises blings, dings, and things,
I wonder even that we'll have wings.
Golden taps, and all of that...
but, oh really, it's a trap.

He has a friend, she cannot add,
which frankly I find rather sad,
and if you last year voted Brexit,
trust me he most surely will not exit.