5 Money Savers That Will Make You Smile

I don’t like to weigh in too much when it comes to politics and economics, but I was amazed to read recently that average unsecured household debt in the UK has soared to over £13,000, which puts it on a par with the levels we saw just before the financial crisis of 2008. Everyone’s situation is different, and personally, given how low interest rates are at the moment, there’s nothing wrong with taking out a loan if you’re confident of paying it back.
That said, prize number one is to obviously avoid debt as much as possible, and live within your means. That doesn’t necessarily mean cutting all the fun things out of your life. But I had a think the other day about some savvy, even slightly enjoyable ways to make staying within budget a bit easier. This is what I came up with…
  1. Be an expert on deals and discounts
We live in a competitive world, and businesses across the spectrum are trying their best to build customer bases. That means there are guaranteed to be good deals and discounts on the go. You can keep your finger on the pulse with sites like ‘All the Deals’, while many others like Groupon keep you up to date on the latest big savings. Perhaps the best bit of advice though is to avoid buying discounted goods or services for the sake of them being cheap. Rather establish what you need, and then start your search in that frame of mind.
  1. The cash challenge
In the days of easy, contactless payments, many consider cash to be outdated and inconvenient. But the downside to card payments is that it is tougher to keep track of spending. Instead, why not withdraw a fixed amount of cash at the start of each week? Thereafter, challenge yourself to put the card away for the rest of the week, and subsist on the amount you’ve withdrawn. And if you have any savings left over, put that away so that you can treat yourself to something nice at the end of the month!
  1. Work those green fingers
Inflation is rising, and one of the costs which seems to have gone up appreciably is that of fruit and vegetables. Even if you live in the City, chances are you’ll have some kind of garden area. Not only is it a lot of fun (and addictive!) to start developing your own veggie patch, but once you get in the swing of things, you’ll find you end up saving a lot of money too.
  1. Find free activities
As any parent knows, once you have children, it can feel like your wallet or purse empties at a rate of knots every time you leave the house. Activities, especially over the holidays, are a necessity to keep kids stimulated, but it can add up. The good news is that there are plenty which are either dirt cheap, or don’t cost a penny! You can find a comprehensive list on the Moneysavingexpert site, which has more than enough day trips and activities to keep you and the family occupied this summer.
  1. Pay for bad habits
Do you bite your fingernails? Slouch when you sit? Watch too much reality TV? Well, this one is simple… every time you catch yourself committing one of these ‘crimes’, then pop 50p or a pound into a jar. As long as you’re strict with penalising yourself, you are guaranteed to benefit either way. If it curtails your bad habit, then it’s a win. And if doesn’t, well, at least you’ll have a handy savings account building up over time!
This is a sponsored post. 

Bigjigs Dungeon - Review #PlayPatrol

As a member of the Bigjigs Play Patrol, last time round, we reviewed the Medieval Train Set which the children loved and this time we are testing out the Dungeon. I love that although it isn't a full train set, it connects well to the previous set for additional play.

The Medieval Train Set and Dungeon tie in well together so as soon as it arrived, C was eager to get both sets built up to play together. The Dungeon comes in only ten pieces, including lanterns and a pillory, and I was able to put it together easily in a matter of seconds. It comes with a few pieces of track and really the only difficult part was deciding where to connect it with our previous set.

C and E very happily engaged with the set along with the character figures from the Medieval Castle and I feel like it's enhanced their play. C's favourite aspect of the Dungeon set is the shutter to allow the train to stop or pass through the actual dungeon. 

The set has been a great educational tool too. C, at four years old, has not yet learned much about castles and dungeons so he was really interested in learning what dungeons were and what they're used for.

All in all, I think it's a fab addition to any existing track set, as it doesn't come with a train itself, although it works fantastically with the Bigjigs Medieval Castle. The pieces are all made from sturdy wood which is sanded smoothly so it's perfect for little hands. The paintwork is brilliant too.

The Bigjigs Dungeon is recommended for children aged 3+ and retails at £20.99. You can find out more at the Bigjigs website and you can follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

(I received this item for the purpose of this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.)

Win a Num Noms Series 3 bundle!

2016 was the year of the Num Nom with the scented collectable craze making its way into households across the UK. My two children became obsessed with Series 1 from seeing them advertised on TV and now you'll find Num Noms in every toy box in our house! Anything collectable is a huge hit with them and my daughter E especially loves the lipglosses.

Now in 2017, we have the release of Series 3 and Lights! The brand have created new food themes and funky characters meaning that there are more ways to collect. The Lights really glow - something that my son will be very excited about! The Nums fit on top of the scented Noms which light up in two different colours and come in a cute juice carton. This is effectively like a blind bag so the character that you get will be a complete surprise - you may even snap up a limited edition one!

Series 3 includes nine new collections with themes such as Marshmallows, Donuts, Veggies and Fiesta Foods. As well as dual-flavoured lipglosses, you can also collect erasers and stampers. You can buy Series 3 as Mystery Pots, Starter Packs, Lunch Box Deluxe Packs and Surprise in a Jar. They have never been more fun and I'm sure little ones will excitedly be trying to collect them all.

Num Noms Series 3 and Series 1 Lights are recommended for children aged 3+ and are available to buy from all good retailers such as Toys R Us, The Entertainer and Smyths Toys. For more information, you can visit the Num Nom website.

Want to win some for your little one? The lovely people at Num Noms have offered my readers the chance to win a Series 3 Starter Pack, Lunch Box Deluxe Pack and Mystery Pot. All you have to do is fill in the Gleam widget below. Good luck!

  • One winner will win a Num Noms Series 3 Starter Pack, Lunch Box Deluxe Box and Mystery Pot
  • The giveaway will run from June 20th until July 9th
  • Open to entrants aged 18+
  • UK residents only
  • One entry per person
  • No automated entries 
Num Noms Series 3 bundle  

Our #PrezzoLaFamiglia Experience

I'm going to start this post by saying that we very rarely eat out as a family. My delightful children are very unpredictable when it comes to their behaviour and my anxiety is already high enough that we just tend to avoid it to have a peaceful life. We were recently invited by Britmums to visit our local Prezzo to try a new dish on their menu for the #PrezzoLaFamiglia Challenge.

I live in Northern Ireland and Prezzo only just opened two stores here within the last four years. I do love Italian food so it was definitely on my wishlist of places to eat. I put my big girl pants on and decided to visit, children in tow!

We visited the Belfast, Boucher Square location as it's close enough to walk to so the kids should have been in good spirits as we wouldn't be travelling far. As soon as we arrived, we were seated promptly in a booth and supplied with menus. It was a beautiful, sunny Friday evening and the sun shone in through the glass windows - it was a lovely, relaxing setting. For the #PrezzoLaFamiglia Challenge, we were there specifically to try one of their new La Famiglia sharing pasta bowls. 

You are able to choose from Penne Arrabiata, Spaghetti Bolognese, Spaghetti Carbonara or Penne Alla Rusticana. We opted for the Penne Alla Rusticana and two large garlic breads. We were told, "the garlic breads are the size of dinner plates - I hope you guys are hungry!" but we were so ready for the challenge. The garlic breads came out first and by God, they weren't lying! Our four year old son C loves garlic bread so I knew he'd probably eat more of that than the pasta! The pasta followed and the bowl was huge. We each had our own small bowls so we could take as much pasta as we wanted. 

The kids had small bowlfuls but Chris and I went all out. We are both oversharers and I know for a fact that our portion sizes are too big 99% of the time! I think I filled my bowl three or four times - it was to die for! The pasta itself was perfect, the tomato based sauce was delicious and I loved the chicken and bacon lardons that were mixed in. I honestly couldn't get enough! Having a big bowl in the middle of the table is a great idea. It really made me think of a proper Italian family, dishes in the middle of the table for anyone to pick and choose what they wanted to put on their plate. It's so easy and I honestly felt it to be a bonding experience. Usually I ponder over a menu for a while, changing my mind constantly then we receive our meals and I end up thinking Chris's looks better than mine. This eliminates all of that.

C is a very fussy eater, especially if it doesn't come from his "list of OK'd foods" and decided that he wasn't a massive fan of the garlic bread, simply because you could really taste the balsamic vinegar - this was actually something I loved but the kid has his creature comforts! E, on the other hand, absolutely demolished almost all of hers and I lost count of how many slices of garlic bread she reached for. Between the four of us, we really didn't leave much at all!

To finish, we had to have a dessert! All four of us chose different flavours of Prezzo's Selection of Gelato, Ice Cream and Sorbet. You could choose two scoops of either chocolate and sea salt gelato, vanilla, strawberry or chocolate ice cream, melon and lime or blood orange sorbet. C stuck to his usual two scoops of chocolate ice cream, his daddy joined him in that, and E went for a scoop of chocolate and a scoop of strawberry. I would usually do the same but I felt that I wanted to branch out and try something different. Unfortunately, they were out of chocolate and sea salt gelato so I substituted that for chocolate ice cream and tried the melon and lime sorbet too. I have to admit that I'd never tried sorbet before and I will definitely be getting it again. It's so flavoursome and a great palate cleanser. Of course, the children and Chris has no issues with their ice cream - C even got stuck in with his fingers!

All in all, we had a fantastic experience dining out as a family at Prezzo. C may not have eaten much, E may have had meltdowns over not being able to pick the pasta up properly on her fork or the ice cream on her spoon (resulting in her setting it down on the table, Chris leaning his elbow on the end and catapulting it onto the back of the booth - cue me dying of laughter) but that's all the fun of eating out with children! 

This post is an entry for the Britmums #PrezzoLaFamiglia Challenge, sponsored by Prezzo.
© Mum of a Premature Baby

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