Managing the Costs for a Family of Four

From personal experience, the costs of living for a family of four can be a struggle at times. My partner Chris works a job which is salaried (and isn't the worst paid!) and although I don't go out to work in the traditional sense, I am registered as self employed with this blog and I do make money from it. The worst thing about this though, is that we know Chris's salary will be the same each month, but my income can vary massively.

Within the past year or two, we've found our outgoings increasing. Our eldest child, C, started his first year of school which meant we had to buy uniform items and I make him a packed lunch every day so we're always spending money on that. Chris also passed his driving test in May last year so we are now paying the monthly payments for a car as well as road tax and insurance. I am a non-driver so we have to factor in the costs for me travelling to the school to collect C each day as Chris works during pick up time.

We try our best to be as careful as we can with money. We keep a list of what payments come out of each bank account. We each pay half of our rent, Chris pays his car payments and mobile phone bill and I pay my own phone bill, TV licence and Netflix and NowTV monthly payments - we love a binge watch at the weekend and can't be without those! We have prepaid gas and electric meters which we just top up when needed so we do need to make sure that we have money for that set aside.

We very rarely splurge and treat ourselves, date nights are few and far between and although I have good intentions when it comes to food shopping, this is definitely where most of our money goes. I would love to be the type of person who can meal plan but it really isn't feasible in our house. C was recently diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (I will write a new blog post about that soon) and part of that means that he tends to stick to eating the same foods (think; Birds' Eye chicken dippers, sweet potato smiley faces, potato waffles, sausages etc) so every evening I am making two separate dinners because he would point blank refuse to eat something that he wasn't familiar and comfortable with.

Obviously, things do happen which are out of your control and we had a nightmare situation like this recently where we had not one, but two massively, unexpected expenses. The first one was a strange ammonia smell in our kitchen which was eventually realised was coming from our fridge. With two young children in the house, our first thought was that we had to get rid of it and get a new one because after a quick internet search, we found that it was toxic. Within about four weeks, our tumble dryer started giving off a burning smell. We did the usual checks, it wasn't anything to do with the lint filter or trap, nor the base roller, exhaust hose or belt rollers. It ended up kicking the bucket too. After paying out for a new fridge, we really panicked about having to pay for this too. I know a tumble dryer isn't a necessary appliance but with work and school uniforms to wash and dry every evening, the fact that we have no outdoor area to dry clothes and the fact that it was coming into winter, we really couldn't be without one.

In my panicked state, I did brainstorm what we could do like try Zippa Loans, sell some of the many things that I have sitting around my house waiting to be listed on eBay or try to wrangle some quick paying sponsored posts but luckily, my dad came to the rescue and was able to lend us some money. Having something like that happen has definitely made us want to be more money savvy and think that we really need to open a savings account for costs like this.

(This is a sponsored post.)

A Guide to Distressing Your Own Denim

Wearing the same clothes day-in, day-out can get boring, so why not get creative and transform some of your old jeans into the hottest distressed denim loved by the likes of Rihanna and Kylie Jenner? It may sound complicated but maxi dresses retailer QUIZ is here to break it down into a step-by-step process.

Before you start
Before you start, you need to carry out some inital preparation. If you don't, you risk acting too hastily and potentially making a mistake that could ruin the overall look of your jeans.

Try on your clean, dry jeans and work out where you want to distress. Pockets, knees and the bum are the most popular parts to modify, as they are the areas of the jeans that naturally wear and tear. Use chalk to mark out where you want to distress.

Creating tears
Inside the jeans underneath where you plan on cutting, you'll need to place a magazine or thick piece of cardboard. This will prevent your knife from slicing both sides of the fabric.

Take a safety knife and carefully cut rips of varying sizes into the denim to create a natural-looking tear. Loosely aim to create a diamond shape using varying sized cuts.

Next, fray the tears you've just made. Along the edge of each cut, gently tease the horizontal white threads using a safety pin, being careful not to break them. Then, using tweezers, pluck out the vertical threads to leave just the white horizontal threads. Repeat this for each cut you have made.

Distressing the denim
At this point, you'll need a piece of sandpaper. Take the sandpaper and rub it across sections of your jeans. Doing so will create a natural-looking colour fade, perfect for adding the finishing touches to your distressed denim creation.

Consider patches
This next step is optional but adding patches to your denim is a great way to show off your individual fashion flair. Bright florals motifs are in vogue and practically leap off distressed denim to give you an eye-catching contrast of grunge and chic. If you want a subtle embellishment, why not go with lace? This is a classic feminine fabric that will dress up your modern distressed denim with retro charm for the ideal smart-casual look.

If patching your denim or distressing it altogether sounds like too much effort, you could head to QUIZ instead to shop their collection of ready-made ripped and patched jeans. However you do it, you definitely need some distressed denim in your wardrobe for the season ahead!

(This is a sponsored post.) 
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