Saturday, February 28, 2009

Cutting costs on medication

After suffering a headache yesterday, it made me think it was about time I did a post about the cost of medicine.
I popped into my local SAVERS as it was the nearest shop to where I was located and I managed to get a box of paracetamol tablets for just 19p! Blimey, I thought Tesco medication was cheap, but I was well impressed and will no longer worry about the cost of getting a headache. Who wants to pay a fortune for a branded painkiller when you are getting the same product with the same ingredients for a fraction of the price?
So although Tesco and Asda have steamrollered in the pharmaceutical world in the last couple of years, SAVERS and similar low priced shops are undercutting most of the supermarkets.

Don't forget that you can always check the ingredients on both packets if you are unsure (I have often done this whilst standing in Boots - it annoys the shop assistants as they hand you all the packets, but what the hell!) and another way to make savings is on prescriptions.
When you put your prescription in, always ask the pharmacist if you can buy the same product over the counter. Obviously in some cases you won't be able to, but if for example you have been prescribed a pain killer, or a pain reliving cream or gel it will often save you a few pounds by buying over the conter rather than the £7.10 you will be paying on prescription, per item. Don't forget most Doctors will not have time or be bothered to tell you this, but don't expect to pop in and get your prozac cheaper, this will only apply to anything that is also available over the counter!

Are you entitled to free prescriptions?

Anyone on benefits or in receipt of Tax Credits is entitled to free prescriptions so check with your benefits office or online, to find out how to apply for an exemption certificate which will also cover you for free dental care and free eye tests.
For anyone already in receipt of free prescriptions, try to avoid paying for any medication at all, by ringing your surgery and asking for a prescription. Who wants to pay £4.50 for a tub of aqueous cream when you can get it for nothing?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Asda banishes "BUY ONE GET ONE FREE"

Asda is to ditch it's "buy one get one free" deals in favour of 5,000 price cuts across the store. The price cuts are expected to be in store by April. It will be interesting to see what Tesco, Sainsburys etc, do in retailiation.

Steamcream update - buy one get one half price courtesey of Chiconomise!

Further to my post recently raving about the price of the new Steamcream you will all be pleased to hear that chiconomise have struck a great deal for its readers and by entering the code CHIC at checkout you can buy one, get one half price! Packaged in a lovely tin, it would make a great gift for a Mothers Day treat! buy here Steamcream.

Get 20% off at Asos

Get the celebrity look just like Lenny Kravitz daughter as seen at New York Fashion Week, at Asos with 20% off by entering the code ASOSLOOK at checkout. Buy here Asos.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Water Rate prices rise by 4.1% - save money on your bills now!

As reported in my Latest News column on 19th Feb, water rates are due to rise by 4.1%so I thought it best to give you a run down on how to save money and not use water excessively.

First up, after doing some research I found a list of approx prices for water usage, it may seem cheap, initially, but it all adds up when you think about how many times you flush the loo or fill the kettle in a week!

18p Cost of a bath using 80 litres of water (this and all figures from Ofwat)

8p-9p Cost of taking a shower (35 to 40 litres of water)

2p Cost of spending a penny - a standard flush uses between 7½ and 9½ litres of water

4p Cost of using a dishwasher (20 litres of water)

£1.19 Cost of watering a typical garden (one hour of hosepipe watering uses 540 litres of water)

Simple saver
If you've got more bedrooms in your house than people living there, a water meter that bases your bill on how much you use rather than on your home's rateable value could save you as much as £200 a year. According to Ofwat, about a third of households in England and Wales already have a water meter installed, and this is expected to rise to 35% by March next year. Call your water company to find out if a meter will suit you - it will fit it for free. Note that, as a general rule, a big family means that you'll probably be better off sticking with the water rates until you have to switch. I have a water meter and have recently gone from 6 to 5 in our household but my water rates are for six months what the national average is for a year!

Now for the money saving tips!

1. Old toilet cisterns can use as much as nine litres of clean water every flush. Reduce this by placing a "hippo" in the cistern, says the Environment Agency. These plastic devices, available from most water providers, displace the water and prevent so much being used. You could save up to three litres of water every time you flush with the right water saving device.

2. Mend dripping taps immediately; you can waste up to 140 litres a week via drips.

3. Use the minimum amount of water required for kettles or for boiling in saucepans, and save both water and energy.

4. Don't switch on dishwashers or washing machines until you've got a full load.

5. You can waste five litres of water a minute if you leave the tap running while you brush your teeth, shave or wash your hands - so turn it off.

6. Washing your car? Ditch the hosepipe for buckets of water.

7. Put a water butt in your garden to collect rainwater that can be used for watering your lawn and plants. And if you let the lawn grow a little longer, not only will you be reducing the amount of mowing you do (saving power, too), it will actually need less watering than a close-shaven patch of grass. Don't forget to add mulch to your flower and veg beds, too - you'll be preventing the weeds growing as well as helping the soil conserve moisture, so you'll need to splash the hose around less on the beds.

8. If you drink tap water or use it for squash, don't run tap until it is really cold, instead keep a jug of water in the fridge.

9. Bath small children together and then top up with more hot, bubbles etc for you to get in after!

If things get really tough and you find you can't pay the bill:-

Find out if you're entitled to financial help

Low-income households - those on benefits such as Job Seekers' Allowance or Income support - can get financial help from their water company in the shape of the "Water Direct" scheme which caps bills. You may also be able to pay your water rates weekly or monthly with a payment card you can use at any paypoint or post office.

The new Eight Hour Cream only cheaper?

Apparently Beauty Editors are raving over this product which is flying off the shelf at Liberty's. At only £9.99 for a moisturiser that can be used on face, hands and body (remind you of Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream?)it certainly sounds like a steal. The product is called SteamCream and is infused with steam, allowing it to deeper penetrate the skin. It originates from Japan and comes in real cute tins with different limited edition designs. Bargainista Beauty Junkees buy yours here steamcream

Monday, February 23, 2009

30% off Elizabeth Arden at Beautycounterdirect

the RRP for Elizabeth Arden Perpetual Moisture 24, 50ml is £31 the beauty counter direct price is £19.99 but you can buy it for just £14.00. Go to and go to reader offers and quote PP89 at checkout.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

More things to do with leftovers - Wine

Can't afford to go out tonight? Friends round for a glass of wine? Well when they have gone home, don't tip away what has been left in the glasses, instead freeze in ice cube trays (or any suitable container) and add to gravy, stocks, soups, stews and casseroles for extra flavour.

Pizza Express 2 for 1 discount voucher

In association with the Times, Pizza Express have a 2 for 1 voucher valid until 28th Feb. Buy one pizza or main course and get another absolutely free! pizza express

Family and Friends Railcard only £18 + discounts elsewhere

Sorry if I am a bit late with this one, but as mentioned in a previous post, I no longer buy newspapers. My mum in law gives me hers, when she remembers, so I am often reading last weeks news! Anyway I saw in a Daily Mirror she gave me yesterday that you can now get a Family and Friends railcard with 25% off, so it is now only £18 for the card which give you a 1/3 off adults travelling and 60% off kids fares by entering the code MIRROR25 at checkout. In addition to this, once you have your railcard you get other benefits i.e 25% off your bill at Bella Italia, 15% off at Caffe Uno, a FREE meal when booked through Toptable and 10% off at to name but a few. Apply for yours here:-

Friday, February 20, 2009

More stuff for the bargainista, via nectar, koodos and cocosa!

1. Extra Nectar Points at Miss Selfridge and Faith.
Until 4th March earn double nectar points at Miss Selfridge plus free standard delivery when using code NECTAR2 at checkout and triple points at Faith for all shoe lovers, along with free p&p. Don’t forget, to receive these offers you must enter the online retailer via the nectar site. If you have a nectar card, do take the time to check out their list of e-stores. For the fashionista - House of Fraser, Wallis, La senza, tights please, All Saints, Urban outfitters etc (UO website sale section has skinny jeans at £4.99 and dresses from £9.99) along with good old favourites such as Amazon etc
2. Koodos
If you haven’t checked out Koodos as I recommended in a previous post, then do so, as on Tuesday 24th Feb, J Brand jeans go on sale with up to 60% off and you can sign up for 24 hr early access.
3. As I have previously been raving about Cocosa, just to let you know you can enter a competition on the site to win a Pauric Sweeney handbag (Pauric Sweeney is sold at net-a-porter, browns, start boutique etc). If you want to be a part of this exclusive shopping experience, click on the link in my previous post which gives my Blog readers exclusive access to the site which is normally by invitation only. Future sales on the site coming soon, include Christian Lacroix, Temperley and Michael Kors.
Sorry there have been lots of posts about fashion lately, I promise to give you my recipe for homemade chicken stock real soon!

Gorgeous Pauric Sweeney bag up for grabs at cocosa.

20% off at Figleaves plus cashback

If you have already booked your holiday and are looking for designer or good quality swimwear that will last more than one vacation, or are in need of some new underwear, then Figleaves have currently got 20% off of selected lines. I was very interested to see that a gorgeous Melissa Odabash bikini (of course I love this one, I am a sucker for leopard print!) is reduced from £129 to £103.20 but on the Melissa Odabash site it is still full price! MO swimwear is a favourite with Celeb's and fashionistas alike. Figleaves does cover all price ranges so there is something for everyone, I just used the high end brand as an example as I prefer quality swimwear, so don’t be put off. Figleaves delivery is £3.50 and they do free returns. Also if you buy from Figleaves via a cashback site (see previous posts for details of these sites) you can get 2% cashback from both topcashback and quidco (you can click on these sites from right hand panel). If you prefer to earn Nectar points whilst shopping at Figleaves - enter via the nectar website.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

25% off a different item at Boden everyday throughout Feb

Get 25% OFF a new item every weekday
(on top of existing offer of 15% OFF plus FREE delivery and FREE returns)

The "Catch of the Day" offer expires at 11.59pm GMT on 1st March 2009. Friday's discounted item will remain at 25% off throughout the weekend, until it is replaced with an alternative offer the following Monday morning.
This "15% OFF plus FREE delivery and FREE returns" offer is valid until 11.59pm GMT on 17th March 2009,can be used once only. Check out todays offer here boden

Cocosa update - Issa sale starts today!

The Issa sale starts today at Cocosa, with our special invitation code for readers of this blog only - sign up here cocosa

Looking for cheap natural skincare?

Try Jojoba or Avocado oil On your hair as a conditioner - Natural and inexpensive!

Looking for a Anti Ageing paraben Free Cream? Try 60ml Aromatherapy Frankincense & Rose £2.99 Gorgeous!!

Yogurt Face Mask
Mix together 1 drop of orange essential oil with 1 teaspoon of plain yogurt and apply to face avoiding the delicate eye area, rise after 10 minutes.

These are just a few recipes containing all natural aromatherapy ingredients for the real budget conscious beauty geeks among you! There are loads more on the site at

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Free Sample of Herbal Essences

Herbal Essences has rebranded and repackaged its range of shampoo and conditioners. To get a free sample click here Luckily for me it is a firm favourite for all my daughters (I'm a Frederic Fekkai girl myself!).

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Update on Cocosa - Designer Fashion at a snip for the Recessionista!

Investment dressing is key in a recession and frugal fashionistas will be checking out Cocosa for designer fashion bargains. Lets face it girls we don’t all want to swap our Prada for Primark when pinching the pennies, and when a real investment piece is worked out on a cost per wear basis, it makes sense to purchase an item that will still be wearable in 5 or 10 years time. Step in Cocosa!
My invitation code dropped into my inbox this afternoon from the lovely and very helpful Natalie and I finally got to enter the site!
Upon opening you do that Lux “net-a-porter” feel, no quickly thrown together website here girls.
The site tells you about up and coming designer sales which last for 48 hours, but of course items could sell out before the sale ends and to be sure of getting your size, you will need to get in early.
You also get to see what is up and coming and can click on any designers that you are interested in to ensure you get an email reminder of when they start.
Currently on sale is Ossie Clark with Maxi dresses at £328 from £850 and the gorgeous Aramis blouse, originally £300 down to £129.
Other sales for February include Issa (also sold at and Velvet by Graham & Spencer (
Just by entering the site and the fact it is by invitation only, really makes you feel as if you are part of something special, so if you are interested in joining this exclusive shopping “club” then please email me for the invitation code which has been especially set up for readers of this Blog. Don’t forget to let me know what you have bought and what the saving was, as on an earlier post, I asked you all to keep a running total of savings made by following my suggestions.

Whittington blouse reduced from £250 - £109 - makes for high powered work wear with suits or pencil skirts or evenings out with skinny jeans and heels. Ruffles are still very much key for this season.

Gorgeous Aramis blouse, comes in 3 colours, great for evening wear or dress down with flared jeans and flip flops for summer.

Need a new bike? Up to 40% off at Amazon

Need a new bike for yourself or maybe a childs birthday present? then Amazon could be the place for you with up to 40% off selected lines. You can go directly to Amazon via my link on the right. It is a few months away from my little mans birthday, but it could be worth buying a bit in advance just to get the discount now.

When it comes to money - stand up for yourself!

When it comes to money matters - if you feel something is unjust or you have been ripped off, never be afraid to complain.
My husband took delivery of the Sainsburys shopping last week, as I was out. When I got back and checked the receipt and the list of substitutes, it became apparent that we had been substituted the Fairy Dishwasher tablets which were on offer for £2.98 for another Fairy Dishwasher tablet which cost £8 odd! Naturally I went mad, there is no way I would pay that for dishwasher tablets so hubby got the blame, he tried to say the Driver hadn’t explained properly at the door La La La…. Anyway, I thought I would ring up and be very nice to the man on the other end of the phone and I just said that I didn’t feel that it was a fair substitution. I told him that I understood they may have run out of stocks on the offer product, but that surely it could have been substituted for another product at least costing under a fiver! They were extremely helpful and within about 3 minutes I had a lovely little e-voucher appear in my inbox for £7, so it was well worth the phone call and I got to keep the large pack of tablets they had sent out aswell! So total profit was approx £8.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Sainsburys cheaper than Asda or Tesco!

A basket of 24 everyday food items costs £30.38 at Sainsbury's compared to £30.43 at Asda, according to

The same basket of goods, including items such as white bread, bananas, eggs, milk, potatoes, beef mince and orange juice, cost £31.15 at Tesco.

Asda has occupied the position of cheapest supermarket for most of the past year since the economic downturn took hold, except in June 2008 when it was held by Tesco.

Sainsbury's has seen prices increase by 13.4 per cent in the past 12 months, compared to an increase of 19.2 per cent at Asda and 20.5 per cent at Tesco.

Luxe for Less at Asos, Koodos and THE OUTNET

Alex Gerrard, right, in a Chloe dress, £1,000. Left, an Asos dress, £44.50.

With the credit crunch dimming our love of luxury brands, we all want to look good on a budget.
Online fashion retailer Asos (As Seen On Screen) bucked the economic trend to register massive profit’s a few weeks back, thanks to its affordable showbiz fashion. The online retailer originally started out by copying the outfits that had been seen on Celeb’s (hence the name) but then went on to offer both mid market and premium brands to give customers more choice and to cater for all budgets. You may also remember I did a post on them the other week telling my readers about its “Outlet” section and the premium jeans brands I found with up to 70% off!

But it isn't the only website that offers you affordable, desirable fashion. There are also websites offering designer labels at hugely discounted prices.

First I checked out . After reading that "This site caters for the serious fashionista", I was first v.excited and then v.dissapointed, as you have to join a waiting list before becoming a member unless you have been invited to join. It apparently has a team of buyers who order direct from the designer. The site is owned by the media company that owns "Grazia" so probably just your fashion industry insiders who get invited to join. If my application is accepted, I will let you know, but something tells me not to hold my breath!
Next up was and I was very impressed - Bottega Veneta Bags, Premium denim as I have previously mentioned on Asos, is also reduced although not as cheap as Asos (expect to pay approx £70). The other great thing about this site is the childrens designer wear.
Being a huge fan of has me wishing the months away for the sites founder, Natalie Massenet's, new venture called the outnet. Theoutnet will be buying up cancelled orders from high end designers and selling them at greatly reduced prices, so one can only wait - I think the site is due to launch about April time, but you can be sure I will post about it when it does, so keep checking back!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Whats mine is yours & chiconomise

OK enough about half term and back to women living stylishly for less!
A couple of websites that may be of interest to readers:-
1. - basically you can swap unwanted clothes or buy stuff - choice is yours. You probably have to check daily to get hold of any real good stuff.
2. - a new venture which has been started up by Michelle Dewberry (Apprentice winner a couple of years back) and the ex editor of Glamour online. When I first heard about the site, I thought that Michelle was just doing the same kind of thing I am hoping to achieve with this Blog, but not at all, it is totally different as they are negotiating their own deals with certain brands/companies, then show you the discount/deal on the deals section of the site. It is of course early days but this website has the potential to be huge and I love the name!

Free and Cheap things to do this half term

Wondering how to entertain the kids on the cheap next week?

Museums and Galleries
Don’t rule out that museum in town you've probably ignored for years – most hold activities that even young children find fascinating.
For example, there’s a free, daily, Science Spectacular during half term at the Wolverhampton Art gallery, where kids can learn to cast dinosaur teeth, trap silly specimens and create a planet!

Fleur de Lis Museum and gallery in Preston Street, Faversham, Kent
Monday 16th to Friday 20th February 2009
Kids go free during half term and adults are £2, OAP‘s £1.
Museum and gallery open from 10am to 4pm (last entry 3pm)
Further information is available from 01795 590726.

In London

National Gallery
Rated Britain’s best free attraction by users of the review website TripAdvisor, this London institution will run painting-inspired storytelling sessions and art workshops for children over half term, and on Sundays throughout the year. British Museum
Free half-term events and activities celebrate the treasures from Shanghai.

National Trust
A large number of National Trust properties have activities over half-term that range from a "Knights and Dragon day" at Corfe Castle, Dorset, “Learn to make your own kite” workshops in Worcestershire and "Marvellous Mini-beasts" at Chartwell in Kent.
The RHS garden Hyde Hall in Chelmsford is having a Chinese Arts and Crafts day on Thursday 19 February, making paper fans, cuttings, lanterns and other activities (it costs £2 per child on top of garden entry).

Story time
Check out your local library as most will hold at least one storytelling session during half-term which, of course, is free (note: you may need to book in advance). Let the kids choose some books whilst they’re there, use the free internet provided and hire a DVD or two and the morning or afternoon will fly by!
And don’t forget to check out your local bookshop as most are also geared up for half-term. Waterstones, for example, is holding daily themes and storytelling at a large number of their stores, ranging from - a “High School Musical” day at Waterstones, Crawley, to - “We’re going on a Bear Hunt” read at their store in Birmingham.

Free Sport for Kids
If you’ve a budding David Beckham in the house, why not see if you can sign him (or her!) up for some free football coaching with the Tesco Holiday Skills Sessions Asda is also holding free sport for kids sessions throughout the school holidays (you need to pick up a voucher in-store or print one off from the website, check out your local council’s website as many will be running reasonably priced half-term sports courses. For example when I checked out mine it led me to a site called which has cricket, street dance, hockey etc at £4 per day from 10am till 2.30pm.

If you fancy seeing the new Disney film “Bolt” at a Vue cinema and have some Nectar Points, you can redeem 1000 points for an adult ticket and 900 points for a child
Check the website of your local cinema to see if there are cheap tickets available for the half term.
Hold your own cinema afternoon – hire a DVD, get the kids to draw some tickets and posters, make your own popcorn and snacks and settle down to watch the film!

Take A Bus or Train
Most young children who get ferried everywhere by car, find that getting a bus or train is a very exciting experience (this certainly applied to me as a child) so perhaps you could use this method to take them to one of the free activities listed or just getting a bus into town for a special treat to McDonalds will easily take care of an otherwise boring afternoon. Dont forget if travelling anywhere by train, always ask if there are any special deals when you are buying your ticket, as family tickets may be cheaper and also more than 2 adult travellers often get a discount or one travels free.

Have a cooking afternoon, baking cakes etc as kids love cooking. If you live near a beach or a park, have an afternoon collecting shells, leaves etc - you can even take a picnic - make a collage when you get home or start a collection of the things you have found. If your child already has any lessons - dancing, horse riding etc - then check with the provider if they are offering any extra classes during half term.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

More Eating out on a Budget Tips

Obviously I have been talking a lot about eating out lately, with today being Valentines Day and it is a shame that I did not find out about before today. The top table website acts as an online booking system to book a restaurant table, but also tells you about offers in your particular area such as eat out for £10 or 50% off a certain restaurant. It also offers a reward points system wherby you earn points then eat for free!
Whenever you book and rate a restaurant through toptable, you earn toptable reward points to redeem for free meals.
Points can also be used to treat yourself to toptable treats and books. Check it out here toptable.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Eat out on Sunday for less - make it valentines weekend not just a day!

Be smart this Valentine's weekend. Don't pay a fortune to have dinner on Saturday night when you can eat out for less tonight or Sunday.

Le Pont de la Tour, London
3 course Sunday menu with champers - £26

Butlers Wharf Bar, London
Full English breakfast menu & Bloody Mary - £9.50

Brasserie Roux, London
3 course pre-theatre menu - £14.50

Uno Restaurant, London
Pizza and complimentary glass of wine - £9.95

Katana @ The International Restaurant
50% off total bill

Plateau Grill, London
2 course menu with glass of wine - £17

Boulevard Dining Room, London
2 course menu with a glass of cocktail - £15

140 Park Lane Restaurant
50% off on Sunday brunch menu

To take advantage of these offers check out

Spend £50 at Dorothy Perkins and get 15% off!

Be quick as offer ends tomorrow. Lots of new arrivals online. Enter DPVALENTINE at checkout. Dotty P's

Free Delivery on "Lauren" at House of Fraser and 30% off Episode Knitwear

Ralph Lauren has launched a new range called "Lauren" in the UK. It is described as very "Jackie O" and will take you from work to cocktails (apparently). The range comes in sizes 8-18 which is great news for bigger girls as most high end designers stop at a 14 (don't they think larger women want to wear nice clothes?). The range is available exclusively at House of Fraser and to launch the range they are offering free next day delivery when you spend £150 or more, by entering EXCLUSIVE in the promotional box on the shopping basket page.
Also there is 30% off this seasons EPISODE knitwear, which is perfect for spring layering if your winter woolies are looking a bit tired! These offers sound great for working gals!

Olympic Holidays on the cheap

News of the World has teamed up with Olympic to offer some great holiday deals:- Cyprus from £299, Greece £189, Red Sea £399 and turkey from £299.
Call 0844 815 6544 quoting BD for more information.
I suggest you see what is available and then check online to find the resorts and hotels that are on offer before booking, as other companies may be offering better deals, but it is worth checking out if you are looking for a bargain holiday this year. Also remember that any deal you find, you can walk into your local High Street Travel Agent to see if they can match the price.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Save money by prolonging salon visits

Hold on to Hair Color
To lock in color, resist washing your hair for 72 hours after a dark dye, says colorist Eva Scrivo. A few weeks later, a clear gloss will restore shine and vibrancy. Try Clairol Shine Happy or Frédéric Fekkai Salon Glaze (hqhair or spacenk - you get 4% cashback when purchasing from hqhair via the paypal website).

Nick-Proof Your Nails
Request an extra coat of color along nail tips, where the wear is worst. Then seal nails with a clear top coat twice a week, says manicurist Jin Soon Choi. Ask if your manicurist can get you a bottle of the polish that she uses on you, so you can deal with any chips if neccessary.

Prolong a Blowdry
At the salon, ask for less product or just product on the lengths of hair, as this will leave you with a cleaner scalp. After a few days, work dry shampoo into the hairline and scalp to extend the life of your style.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Free Loreal Professionnel Salon Shampoo and Conditioner from the Serie Expert range at participating Salons.

Loreal Professionnel (yes it is spelt like this!), Salon range is offering customers a free FULL retail size shampoo or conditioner worth approx £8.50 with every colour treatment at participating salons. This fantastic offer runs until 31st August so if you have your hair coloured every six weeks that could work out to 5 free bottles - approx £42.50 worth of Salon professional shampoo or conditioner just for printing off a voucher and using a participating salon! To print off your voucher go to . You will see the free voucher area on the right hand side of the page, click on and you will have to fill in your name and email details and then the voucher will be sent to you immediately by email.
If you don’t already use an appointed Loreal Salon, they have a salon locator web address on the voucher and it advises you to check if they are taking part in this promotion before booking.
I suggest you print off 6 vouchers all at once and stick them somewhere where you won’t lose them and can constantly see them, as this way you won’t forget and it will save the hassle of printing one off before every salon visit.

More Doom and Gloom ...........

Sorry guys but it is "The Recessionistas" job to keep you informed, although perhaps I should stick with the ways to make and save money rather than keep you updated on latest news as a lot of my friends seem to be saying that they are sick to death of hearing about the Credit Crunch/Recession everytime they turn the radio or t.v. on or read a newspaper. But for now, here goes anyway......
Northern Rock Mortgages
Losses incurred by Northern Rock on repossessed homes soared nearly four-fold during 2008 as the economy deteriorated, figures show.
The nationalised bank saw the steep increases in losses on mortgages that are held in its Granite securitisation vehicle, which represents around half of Northern Rock’s total mortgage book.
Petrol Prices
Petrol prices are rising again, the AA said today, despite cheaper oil and the deepening recession.
The motoring group said diesel has once again topped the £1 a litre mark, and that unleaded fuel now costs an average of 90.1p a litre.
This means the cost of unleaded has risen by more than 4p a litre since January 6, when prices hit their lowest point this year.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Making the most of your leftovers

What do you get when you cross a food-obsessed culture with a global recession? A serious spike in lunchbox and thermos flask sales, so here are some great ideas to get you thinking about using your leftovers.

I was reading a personal finance blog yesterday and offered the author some advice on what to do with her leftover vegetables. Soup at lunchtime is the perfect antidote to cold, blustery days. So on rainy Sundays, make a big pot and freeze it in portions.
So basically you just boil up all your leftover vegetables with an onion, garlic if you wish, a stock cube then simmer until veg is soft. Blitz in a liquidiser or food processor to your desired thickness, season to taste and hey presto! It is great served with crusty bread and you can take it to work in a flask, or get out of the freezer in the morning and warm through when you get home from work.

Cornish pasties - a meal in a parcel - were the original working lunch, and you can make them really easily. Put some of your chosen filling on a disc of puff pastry (again, there are endless variations you can play around with) and fold it over into a crescent shape. Seal it by squeezing between your fingers and thumbs and dabbing it with a little egg yolk. Then bake in the oven. A great alternative to boring sandwiches in both adults and kids lunchboxes. A large pack of puff pastry is approx 95p (this would make loads) and this is a great way to use the last bits of cheese up or any processed meats - just add some onion or tomato. To create a more traditional Cornish pasty, use leftover meat and veg from the Sunday roast. I keep a pack of puff pastry in the fridge at all times and cut off small chunks if making pasties or more if I need the topping for a pie. You can also make a large roast dinner pie with all your Sunday Roast leftovers and the addition of some thick gravy and some fried onions. Serve with mash and beans.

On average we waste a third of the food we buy. That amounts to around £600 per year for an average family. There are some really easy ways to lower your lunchtime food wastage. Freezing bread in the portions you need to make sandwiches, for example. And leftover salad can be ripped up and added to pasta salad or put into sandwiches or wraps the next day.
One of the biggest issues is that £1bn worth of homemade meals are being binned every year, so taking your leftovers to work or making another meal out of them, saves a great deal of money.
People tend to be unsure about how long they can keep leftovers for, but the standard advice is that they will be OK for two days in the fridge and then you should eat them, or freeze them.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Daily Money Diary

For those of you who have been reading money saving/personal finance blogs for some time, you may already be aware of the importance of keeping a Daily Money Diary. A DMD allows you to keep track of where your money is going week by week, so if your someone who withdraws £50 from the ATM on your way into work Monday morning and has nothing left come Friday, then keeping a DMD is an ideal way for you to make immediate savings.
The idea of a DMD is that each day you list what you spend, Latte on the way into the office, Tights from M&S at lunchtime, a magazine for the journey home etc etc

Once you have done this for a whole week, you can then sit down at the weekend and take a close look at where you are wasting money and cut back accordingly.
We have all heard a million times that if you give up your morning Starbucks and your lunchtime sarni from Pret - that you could be saving the equivalent of £5 a day which equates to £25 a week! So over a year that is a massive saving of £1,300! (Oh I feel a Chanel bag coming on…).
Taking homemade sandwiches to work can get boring and if you work long days, can take up precious time but you will soon reap the financial rewards.
Some of my pack lunch ideas:-
1. Alternate Bread with Soft Tortilla wraps (they often come in reseable packs), bagels and rolls. All these can be kept in the freezer and taken out as required (the night before) to cut back on waste.
2. Avoid expensive supermarket sarni fillings by making your own. Any chopped meat, egg, cheese, tuna etc can be mixed with a little mayo and maybe some chopped spring onion or peppers.
3. To avoid waste use short date code products up first and when these have gone, use egg, cheese, tinned fish etc
4. Adding lettuce, tom, cue etc to your sarni will make it more like a shop bought one. A plain cheese sarni is dry and boring and bound to have you running out at lunchtime!
5. Pasta makes a great lunch alternative so if you have any leftover from supper, mix with some mayo, tuna and sweet corn. I always find this more filling than a sandwich.

1. If you commute and have a laptop with you, read the news online instead of buying a daily paper. You can always leave your seat last and pick up one that has been left behind to read on the way home!
2. I have stopped buying Magazines completely and now rely on my eldest daughter and friends to pass on the likes of Grazia, Heat, OK etc. I read Vogue online and follow the life and style pages of The Telegraph and The Times to keep abreast of Fashion etc

Going to work
Going to work can be costly, especially if you need to look smart. Save money by:-
1. If you have to wear smart clothes to the office, avoid paying out for tights by choosing trousers or trouser suits in winter. These will keep you warmer anyway!
2. Check out ebay for suits, shirts etc. My husband gets through suits like there is no tomorrow, wearing them away at the top of the legs, so always buys 2 trousers to 1 jacket. The days of Saville Row tailoring are over in our house, so I recently got him an M&S suit, brand new with tags, 2 trousers and 1 jacket for £50! For what we normally pay in M&S - we saved about £100!
3. Are there cheaper ways to travel to work? Coach instead of Train, Car share?

Other ways to save on daily expenditure:-
1. Avoid corner shops for bread and milk etc always get enough when doing your weekly shop. Remember Semi and Skimmed milk can both be frozen and buying a 6 pint carton works out cheaper and you can decant and freeze half. Also freeze bread and take out as required. I feel guilty saying avoid corner shops as we are all struggling to make a living but if you really need to be careful with your cash, then best avoid.
2. Never drive into town specifically to buy petrol, buy it when you are in town or passing a garage anyway. I saw my mother in law in town on Friday, I had got the bus in and she had apparently just gone down for petrol! I was livid, she could have got it when we went to Tesco on Wednesday and saved herself the time and the cost of the petrol for driving in again two days later! Also, if she had told me, I could have got a lift with her and saved the £3.70 bus fare!
So you can see there are many ways to keep that cash in your purse each week and if you have any more ideas or can share with us the ways you have managed to make savings on day to day expenditure then please let me know.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Extra Nectar points when shopping online at Sainsburys

Collect an extra 150 points with Sainsbury's online groceries every time you shop online through Nectar
Brrr... Too cold and wet outside?
Not enough time in your busy schedule?
Need more quality time with the family?
Want to buy only what you need to cut costs on your shopping bill?
Want to take advantage of the "Feed your family for a fiver" meals?

Whatever your reason, getting groceries
delivered to your door just got even more exciting!
Don't have a nectar card? pick up a card and leaflet from Sainsburys or click on the nectar link above to apply.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Get £100 for switching bank accounts

I know that switching bank accounts is a real pain, but if you are serious about saving/making extra money this year (and you must be if you are reading this blog!), then Alliance and Leicester is currently giving away £100 when you switch bank accounts to either their Premier Current Account (£500 monthly funding, minimum age 21) or a new Premier 50 current account, pop into branch or visit them here Alliance & Leicester. Talking of saving and making money, if you are following the hints and tips given on this blog then perhaps you can leave a comment to let me know what you have actually saved or will be saving in the future, perhaps due to switching energy suppliers, using voucher codes, cashback sites or buying the bargain jeans I recommended in a recent post.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Hurry to lock in your savings before rates drop later today!

You only have until lunchtime today to lock in your savings before the interest rate is cut at lunchtime today.
The best deals from UK institutions are as follows The AA’s Internet 1 Year Fixed Rate pays 3.85% AER from a minimum of £500 up to a maximum of £5,000,000 (click on financial services tab). Birmingham Midshires pays 3.5% from £1 up to a maximum of £10 million, and National Counties BS also pays 3.5% AER, though you need a minimum balance of £5,000, and has a maximum of £100,000. There are other slightly higher interest rates available but unless you want to lock into an institution owned by the Bank of Nigeria, then best to avoid these. Don’t forget your savings are covered against a bank or building society collapse by £50,000 per institution, so anybody with a bigger amount in savings should be splitting it between various banks/building societies.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Valentines Day - The cheapest dozen red roses online

Nothing makes a girl happier on Valentines Day than a dozen red roses. The picture on the left is of the M&S Cupid Bouquet at £19.50. This classic bouquet of twelve rich red roses, is full of romance and sophistication and is available for delivery from 12 -14 Feb. Order here m&s
Also checkout valueflora where a dozen red roses with foilage normally retails at £19.98 but is currently only £14.98! pictured top.
I have also just seen the Sainsburys advert where you get a bottle of Cava and a box of Thorntons chocolates for £10.
The best value bouquets to pick up instore are:-
Sainsbury’s, £4.99 for a dozen Fair Trade red roses
Morrison's, £4.99 for a dozen red roses.
M & S, £9.99 for a dozen Fair Trade red roses
Lidl, £9.99 for a dozen red roses
Somerfield, £10 for a red rose bouquet

Don't forget to leave this page up on your computer girls, so that he can take the hint!

Premium Denim at High Street Prices *yes cheaper than Topshop"

When daughter number one informed me at the weekend that she wanted to sell all her old jeans from Topshop, River Island etc on ebay to enable her to purchase a pair of premium denim jeans, "The Recessionista" went into bargain hunter mode! The net-a-porter sale had finished and I decided to have a trawl on Asos as they always have a clearance section. I typed in Sewn as a search at the top of the page, as Earnest Sewn was the first high end brand that sprang to mind and low and behold something came up that I never knew existed and with three teenage daughters who constantly buy from this site, I was amazed I hadn't seen it before! Basically they have an outlet section, with even bigger reductions than their normal clearance section. Across the top it says, Women, Men then Outlet! how had I ever missed this? Basically we got a pair of dark denim skinnies by Earnest Sewn for £35! yes you read it right - original price was £155! Now it seems you have to be quick as there were about 4 Earnest Sewn styles online at the weekend and now there are none, but some of the current bargains in premium denim are Radcliff skinnies at £47 from £145, 18th Amendment flares at £54 from £175, Serfontaine bootcut at £63 from £155, there are also cheaper brands and Victoria Beckhams DVB line, greatly reduced. Now when you think you pay roughly £40 for a pair of jeans from Topshop - this has got to be a good deal! So although you may all be feeling the pinch and may well have given the Sales a miss, just bear in mind when the time for new jeans comes, check out the outlet section here Asos and don't forget to check out your voucher code websites to see if you can make additional savings on any orders placed.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Free Orgins Skincare

For anyone who loves the Orgins range of skincare, or who wishes to try out their new Youthtopia Facial Serum which has received much praise in recent press, there is a great special offer. Basically, for orders over £35 (on any Orgins products not just the ones I have mentioned) if you enter the code “firm09” at checkout, you will receive a FREE Youthtopia skin firming cream worth £20! plus you also get the opportunity, again at checkout, to choose your FREE anti ageing set worth £15!
Working out the value of the Free Stuff - it doesn’t make using Oil of Olay seem like much of bargain does it? So for example if you spend £35, you will be getting £35 worth of free stuff. Standard delivery is £4.95, it is only free on orders over £75. This is a great idea if you have any female friends or relatives birthdays coming up as you could buy them a gift, but you could keep the free stuff to test out the range if you are not already familiar with it. Offer ends 10th Feb so visit them here:- Orgins

Reclaiming mis sold ppi and bank charges

We have all heard the talk about reclaiming bank charges and the fact that the test case has again been adjourned by the courts. People suffering financial hardship either because they are on benefits or have lost their jobs or maybe their partner, can still claim, as financial hardship cases still have to be looked at by the banks, although you can still send your claim in even if you don't fall into the hardship category, so that you just join the queue of claims waiting to be sorted out. I don't think so many people are aware that they can also claim back ppi if they feel they have been mis-sold a policy. New research by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) says that many consumers may have been mis-sold PPI.
The FSA's survey found that up to a quarter of consumers had bought payment protection insurance (PPI) with a mortgage or other credit agreement without realising that it was optional.
Furthermore, a fifth were unable to pinpoint why they had bought the policy when asked, with more than half citing reasons relating to ‘security’, suggesting that many policies may have been mis sold.
The survey also covers areas including mortgages, personal pensions, investments and general insurance and annuities products.
The research looks into whether consumers received and understood key product details, the factors that influenced them in deciding to buy and their post-sale experience.
The aim of the survey was to ensure ‘that consumers receive and use clear, simple and relevant information from the industry and from the FSA'.

Take action on PPI
If you think you've been mis-sold Payment Protection Insurance, find out how to reclaim your charges and get template letters here:-

Monday, February 2, 2009

Feed the family for a fiver

I am sure you have all seen the sainsburys adverts "feed the family for a fiver", well yesterday I tried this one out - chunky beef casserole and it was great. I didn't have any crusty bread (as per the advert) to serve with it, so 1/2 an hour before dishing up I added some dumplings (this actually worked out cheaper than buying a french stick as the dumpling mix was 49p and made the meal bigger and more filling). There was only 4 of us for dinner yesterday and to be honest this wouldn't have stretched any further, luckily one child has gone off meat, so the meat went 3 ways quite nicely. My son had cricket practice yesterday, so I was out for a couple of hours whilst this was cooking, so a great meal to put on whilst the kids are out at activities, or you pop to the supermarket, doctors etc. Don't forget you can easily subsitute for other supermarkets value ranges, you don't have to use sainsburys ingredients. For singles or couples you could obviously cook using the amounts in the recipe and freeze into portions, so it would be a really cheap meal for you. We really liked it so give it a try here sainsburys online.

A quicker way to get your Ebay money out of Paypal

For any ebay sellers out there, paypal have now introduced a top up card, which means instead of waiting the usual 3-5 days for clearance into your chosen bank account, you can now transfer money on to your top up card, with a maximum clearance of one day! So basically you can shop online, withdraw money at ATM’s (£2 fee) and use anywhere displaying the VISA sign, even abroad (£3 fee). You can also pre load cash onto the card at any post office or outlet displaying the paypoint sign (for this there is a £1 charge). The clearance times are:- 1. Post office - next day 2. Paypoint - instant and 3. Paypal - next day.
The card purchase fee is £4.95, but to me it seems worth it, my card actually arrived on Saturday. The good thing with one of these cards (obviously other companies offer them as well) is that not only do you benefit from getting your hands on your ebay earnings quicker, but in these times of recession, they allow you to keep complete control of your finances. If you use it just for paypal fund withdrawal and then making purchases, you won’t incur any individual transaction fees and this is the way I will use mine, otherwise all those transaction fees for withdrawing cash will soon add up (one ATM withdrawal a week for one year = £104!), but used properly, it will be worth the £4.95 investment. Go to topupcard.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Saving money on Holidays, Flights and Travel Insurance

January and February are traditionally the months when most people book their summer holidays and there are ways that you can make huge savings by doing your research and booking hotels, apartments, travel insurance and flights direct. 5 years ago when I went abroad for the first time in 4 years, I picked up a brochure from the travel agents and was astounded to see the cost of a holiday for my chosen destination, for a family of 6. I then went online, searched the hotel and booked direct and then found our flights and again, booked them direct. I booked our taxi transfers via the internet, also our travel insurance and made a saving of a whopping £1,500! Over the next few years the hotel prices increased and although I continued to book our holiday this way, the saving got less and less. In year 3 my eldest child didn’t come and then last year, neither she nor the next one came, so there was only 4 of us. We were already feeling the effects of the credit crunch and booked a very last minute holiday to the same destination, but this time we booked an apartment near to the hotel we normally stay at, but for a fraction of the cost. We chose the Owners Direct website, which has worldwide accommodation, searched the area we wanted to go to and then searched the special offers section for that area and we got a fantastic deal. It was only for 6 days rather than 7 but we got it dirt cheap. It is obviously down to each individual villa/apartment owner what special offers they chose to give, but if they have a gap that they can’t fill, some will offer a very good price and you can expect some good deals this year as I would think a lot of owners will worry that they won‘t get their properties full this summer with the state of the Euro/Economy etc. We booked our flights direct with Monarch as we had in previous years and again got some very cheap flights - so it can be done. If you don’t have to worry about funds and can book a fortnight in Dubai - then well done you, but do remember that a lot more companies will go bust this year and lots more people will be losing their jobs, so be cautious when booking in advance, incase its you! Check the right hand panel for links to useful travel insurance/holiday/flight company websites.

My top tips for booking a holiday are:-

1. Flights are usually cheaper midweek, so avoid travelling at weekends.
2. By booking through a travel agent you have the security of being ATOL protected and will get your money back and a flight home should your chosen company go bust whilst you are away.
3. If you book via a travel agent, don’t be cajoled into paying for their travel insurance find a great deal on the internet. The cheapest I can find as this post is published, for a family of 4, single trip insurance to Europe for only £9.35 with direct-travel. For an extra £3.40 you also get cancellation cover, great if booking a package deal.
4. If you take a chance and book your hotel and flights separately without the use of a Travel Agent who is ATOL protected, ensure you have enough money in a bank account or on a credit card to get you home should anything go wrong.
5. Booking online via the High Street Agents websites, usually secures you an extra 5 or 10% discount than if you use their call centres or branches.
6. Do compare prices, don’t just settle for the first agent you speak to - let them fight for your business telling them you can get a cheaper deal on the same holiday elsewhere, to see if they can match it.
7. If booking flights direct - remember the initial bargain price you see will then have taxes added, costs for inflight meals and baggage are also usually extra.
8. Do budget your spending money - think about the amount you believe is reasonable to live on each day, but do factor in young children who will be constantly requiring drinks and ice lollies! Allow a days extra money as a contingency or to spend on your last night, if it is left over, you may like to enjoy a meal out rather than eating in the hotel.
9. Always ensure you factor in currency for the Airport. There is nothing worse than having a long flight delay and no money left to buy food and drink when everyone around you has a nice ice cold bottle of water! (yes you guessed it, I was that person pre kids, usually on my way back from an 18-30 jaunt to Ibiza!).
10. If you need new Sunglasses, are running out of your favourite Chanel lipstick or perfume - hold out and buy Duty Free from the Airport.
11. Be careful when using a comparison travel website, as the price you see is rarely there when you click through to the flight companies site. Just think about the airlines that may fly to your chosen destination and go directly to their sites.
12. There are no commission costs for foreign currency when using the Post Office and if you have any left when you get back, they change that back to Sterling for free aswell, unlike some Travel Agents.
13. Don’t be afraid to book your hotel via Thomson and your flights with Thomas Cook, you are in charge and it is your money!
14. Remember the old E111 form you could get from the post office which covered you for medical expenses if travelling to Europe? Well now it has been replaced by a card called EHIC which you can apply for online via their website, they also offer travel insurance.
15. Is it me or does Suntan Lotion always seem to be more expensive when bought abroad? Always make sure you take enough with you. Boots usually have good buy one get one free offers, especially on their own brand range, Soltan (don't forget to buy online using a cashback site for extra savings, both cashbackkings and topcashback give 3.5% for this retailer). So don't be afraid to start buying now. 16.Start buying your holiday tolietries/medical supplies each week when doing your weekly shop as to buy it all in one go, just before your holiday, can cost a fortune and really take a nasty chunk out of your spending money. This way you will hardly notice it and can take full advantage of buy one get on free offers when they have them on shampoo, showergel, toothpaste etc!
17. Don’t forget it is far better to be Frugal on holiday than not to have one. In this day and age, there is so much peer pressure on children, that last year we really only went away for the sake of the kids. It is awful when everyone else goes back to school with a tan or talks about their holidays and your child is the one who hasn’t been anyway. Think about going for 5 days rather than 7, If you go Friday till Monday, get an early morning flight on Friday so you have from lunchtime onwards and then a flight back late Monday night to get the most out of your stay. If you can drive - consider camping holidays to the South of France/Brittany etc - my kids once had a fab time doing this with their Dad (it was the only time he ever took them abroad, but hey ho!). We all need a break sometime and if like me, you are determined that your kids won’t suffer from our economic decline - hopefully you will find a way!