When it comes to floors in the home and being budget friendly, hard floors are always the winner for me. In our home we only have carpet on the stairs and landing; the rest of our home has hard flooring throughout. Personally I find it so much easier to clean, especially with two young children. It doesn’t stain, it doesn’t soak up spills and it doesn’t get dirty – unlike carpets. Now, I would love a carpet one day, don’t get me wrong. I love the soft feel of carpet underfoot. But that will be in my very own private no-shoe adult room one day in the future!
Unfortunately with kids and pets, my experience of carpets has only been one of frustration as they get dirty so quickly, are a pain to have to clean with a carpet cleaner and kids food constantly stains or mushes into the piles! So hard floors it is –to both save my sanity and because in the long run I believe it is a cost effective and longer lasting option.
Many people think that hard flooring is an expensive option, but I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be. Whilst we all might want a real wooden oak floor or solid marble tiles, the reality is that our purse strings might not stretch quite this far. So instead, much to our dismay, we have no choice but to opt for cheaper floor options. Once upon a time that might have meant settling for something that was so obviously cheap, but nowadays there are plenty of affordable flooring solutions which actually look just like the real deal.
So chin up! Let’s explore in this blog post some inexpensive flooring ideas that look totally authentic:
Engineered wood flooring
If you want a floor that truly resembles a real hardwood floor, then you’ll want to consider engineered wood flooring from a company such as Lifestyle Flooring. This flooring option is a wood floor that is made from several glued together layers of plywood. It is very strong and stable, in fact possibly even more so than real wood as it doesn’t warp or shrink with changes in temperature.
It’s also easier to install than real wood as each piece doesn’t need to be nailed down, but has click together joints meaning those who are quite savvy in DIY can install this by themselves. My husband and I were able to lay our entire house with click together wooden effect flooring.
When I first think of vinyl flooring, I simply imagine the sheet vinyl flooring we always put in our bathroom. It looks pretty terrible and it wears through quickly too. However, there is so much more to vinyl flooring and in particular there are ranges of ‘luxury’ vinyl floor tiles that can look as real as stone, marble, slate, concrete and more. Some brands not only look like the real thing, but even have the texture too.
Not only is luxury vinyl flooring much cheaper than choosing the real thing, but they are highly durable and long lasting with some brands offering a 20 year guarantee. And, if that’s not enough to convince you to reconsider vinyl flooring as an option, you can even get get vinyl flooring that looks just like an authentic wooden floor.
Luckily, nowadays, there are lots more options when it comes to affordable flooring for the home that looks like raw materials, but is actually a copy. Opting for a replicated floor doesn’t mean you are opting for less quality either. As I mentioned with the engineered wood flooring, it can even have several benefits over a real wood floor so should definitely be considered when you are looking into floor options for your home.
Many parents tend to go overboard when planning parties for their kids, but there are great ways to have a memorable party that does not include spending too much money. Often it’s the parents who are perhaps trying to make a great impression to other parents, but in reality the kids will have a great time at any party so long as the usual suspects of party food and friends are there. Oh, and of course the presents! Below are some great tips and examples for budget-friendly kids party planning.
When planning any party, it is essential to set a budget and stick to it. While you may need a little wiggle room for unexpected costs, it is vital to stick to your guns and stay within your budget. The main point of the party is to have fun and celebrate, and no one is going to notice if you opted for plain coloured napkins instead of ones with a saying on them, they will wipe their hands with them either way so why not save some money and stick within your budget. Of course it’s always nice to buy whatever you want to and be extravagant, but if your bank balance won’t allow this then you are going to have to stick to what you can afford. Your kids will have a great time regardless of the colours of napkins and such things.
Keep invitations inexpensive and straightforward. We live in a digital world so why not save yourself some time and money and send digital invitations. By sending digital invitations, you can save on the purchase of the invitations and the postage and will most likely get a quicker response via email or text, so you know how many will be attending. If you want to forgo the digital and have more personalised invitations make them yourself and hand them out instead of mailing them. When it comes to invitations, you can be creative and still keep the cost to a minimum. There are numerous templates online ready for you to fill in and be able to print your own invites instead of paying high prices for a professional to create them for you.
Are you throwing a birthday party and your child shares the birthday with someone else? Then double up! You can keep costs low by planning parties with others who share the same birthday or for an event that coincides with someone else’s. By doubling up, you can make sure you keep the party costs down, and two imaginations are better than one so you may end up with a better party in the end. You’ll get to split costs and won’t have to do all the hard work yourself.
Don't fall into the store bought cake trap. You can make your own cake or cakes at home for much cheaper, and everyone loves them just the same. With boxed mixes and frosting with readymade cake decorations you are sure to create a stunning cake that will make everyone happy and for a fraction of the cost. In fact, you can make two types of cake to make sure that everyone has something they like and still have less cost than with a store made cake. If you really can’t make a cake then an alternative idea is to buy a plain sponge and simply decorate yourself. That’s still a much cheaper idea than buying a readymade party cake – they’re sometimes a tenth of the price, or less!
Often at kids parties we make way too much food. We worry we don’t have enough, but there’s always a huge pile of excess at the end. Kids have small tummies and with the excitement of the party they don’t always eat as much as normal as they’re too excited to play. To save making way too much food and wasting money by having excess, instead make a lunch box for each child. That way you know exactly how much each child has and how much food you need to buy. One sandwich each, one yoghurt, one piece or fruit or box of raisins, one pudding and a drink each. Easy! That was there should be nothing wasted and anything that isn’t eaten can be taken home in their lunch box. It’s possible to buy cheap flat packed cardboard lunchboxes for parties online or to buy striped candy style bags that be used as a lunch bag for each child.
A great way to minimize your expenses is to shop online. Going to party stores can be overwhelming, and you may end up walking out buying more than you wanted to. Shopping online ensures that you can find the lowest cost for the items you wish to purchase and you may find that there is a greater selection of items to choose from. There are many great online party stores you can choose from, and they offer great prices and low shipping costs that are sure to fit any budget.
Below are two examples of themed birthday parties that are budget-friendly:
What little girl doesn't want to be a princess? Throwing a princess themed party does not mean having to spend a lot of money. You can find many items you need online for a relatively low cost. From table clothes to party favours you are sure to find everything you need. If you can’t afford printed party ware then plain pink works great for a princess theme and sprinkle glitter over a pink table cloth. A plain sponge cake can be decorated with pink icing, ‘Princess’ and the name of your child, then a plastic silver tiara which the birthday girl can keep afterwards. Send out pink invites saying to come as your favourite princess.
Boys of all ages love building and creating a construction themed party can be simple and budget friendly. From plates and napkins to bubbles and decorations you are sure to find everything you need to make your party a success, whether you choose for printed items or not. If you need to opt for plain items then choose yellow! Yellow plates, napkins and balloons to really give the party a JCB digger feel! Make sure there’s lots of LEGO and construction toys left out to play with and ask everyone to come dressed as a builder – white t-shirts, jeans and a yellow plastic dress-up hard hat will do.
No matter what type of party you are throwing, there are ways to keep your costs low. It is essential to set a budget and stick with it. Being creative is more important than how much money you spend. From making your own invitations and cake to searching online for the best prices, it only takes a little time and creativity to throw a great kids party on even the smallest of budgets.
Hosting a fabulous party doesn't need to drain your bank account . There are lots of affordable and creative ideas for catering, decoration, and party styling that are sure to impress your guests. If you have an expensive idea then rethink it and see if you can turn it into a handmade or homemade idea. Focus on keeping things minimal and easy to do. It's totally still possible to wow, even with a limited budget.
I'm going to share with you some ideas of how to turn that tiny budget into an unforgettable party. Remember, that every party is a networking opportunity, especially for those of us who have our own businesses. Friends and family are always so interested in what me and my husband do as our businesses, so before you start making a plan, have your mini business cards ready to be sure they check out your website after the party.
Sending some beautiful handmade paper invitations make the event extra special and shows you are putting the effort in, especially if it's a special occasion and you need a RSVP from everyone. It's more personalised than sending a group text and gives the first impression of your fabulous party. There are lots of ideas or templates online if you are not a very creative person.
Choose a party theme
Choosing to have a theme for a party can sometimes seamlessly tie a party together. It doesn't have to be costly or complicated either, but something as simple as a colour theme which runs from the invites through to the colour of the decor at the party.
You could choose a rustic look and feel for the invites and then continue this with the decor by covering recycled glass jars in jute material and tying with brown string, then popping wither candles in the jars or water and daisies from your garden. None of this needs to cost a fortune - pick your own flowers from the garden, use what you have or check charity shops. Pinterest is an amazing resource if you are looking for inspiration and decor ideas.
Do it yourself when you can
A DIY party decoration can often be better looking and more thoughtful than a store-bought version, plus it can be more cost effective. All you need is some inspiration and creative ideas and you might even have all the materials you need already at home. For a child's birthday party, for example, you could decorate a paper table covering with colours and characters that suit the theme or that are their favourite. Or draw outlines of characters that the party kids can decorate themselves - now you have a great tablecloth for the party and a party game in one!
Don't go overboard on food
If you're entertaining on a budget then expensive menus are going to be off the list. Instead throw a buffet style party or nibbles. If you're throwing a kids party then create them each a little lunchbox to ensure there is no food waste and money wasted. Simply pop each child's lunchbox meal in a striped paper bag and tie with streamer to make it more partyish and exciting!
You could always arrange the party to be held outside of eating hours, for example a kids party between 2-4pm when no one is hungry. Simply state 'light snacks serves' on the invite and lay out a few bowls of crisps, bread sticks, crackers and vegetable fingers.
Or, if you're hosting a BBQ then ask guests to bring they're own food - whatever they desire to be BBQd. You'll cook, but they can supply what they like to eat!
Offer a signature drink
Signature drinks are a great way to save money when party planning and will keep costs within your budget. Unlike an open bar, where costs can quickly add up especially if you're trying to offer drinks to suit all manner of tastes, offering a signature drink instead will be much more affordable. Create a big post of mulled wine for a festive party or a large bowl of a fruity cocktail for a summer party with a ladle and glasses for guests to help themselves.
Again, you can always state BYOB on the party invitations (Bring Your Own Beer).
Some of us don't drink alcohol, like me, or people might be designated drivers and only on soft drinks, so make sure these are served too. There's also no need to have to serve alcohol at a party. Why not have an afternoon tea party instead and actually serve several different pots of herbal and flavoured teas. Very civilised!
Hire or borrow instead of buying everything
If this is a one-off special event that isn't likely to happen again, then you'll be wasting money on buying expensive equipment if you can hire it instead just this once. Check with friends and family to see what tables and chairs can be borrowed if you need more, or check local marketplace's or thrift stores to find some for cheap. We hired hay bales from a local farmer when we hosted our garden wedfest.
Ask guests to bring their own
As mentioned above, you could ask guests to bring their own. Quite often guests will ask what they can bring anyway as they don't want to turn up empty handed! it's quite normal to ask them to bring their own drinks and you'll supply the food, or to ask them to bring one of the courses such as starter or dessert.
Create a party playlist before the event which is full of your favourite tunes that are suitable for the big event. Make sure there's enough to last the event or only loop a couple of times so as people don't get bored of the song choices. Use a bluetooth speaker to play the music wherever the party is being held and make sure it's fully charged.
Welcome to my Money Making Blogger interview series where I interview bloggers who are making money from their blogs!
Read on to discover how they make money from blogging and the steps they took to monetize their blogs. Feel inspired and learn something new from this series! Also learn how many hours they spend on their blogs per week, what sort of income this provides and their tips for new bloggers who want to make money by blogging.
I get to write every day and make money by doing what I love. It’s amazing and still amazes me each day. It’s not without a lot of hard work though, so don’t be fooled into thinking you simply set up a website and voila, income starts rolling in. If only! I work 30-40 hours per week currently and my blog is my life!
In this series I am going to interview other bloggers who also make money from their blogs to hopefully inspire people to start a blog if they wish or to make that leap to monetizing content. I also find it so interesting to learn what other bloggers are up to and even us full time bloggers can learn from each other and inspire one another.
Hello, please introduce yourself and tell us all about your money making blog.
I’m Alexia from http://www.losangelesmammablog.com. I’ve been blogging for years and really just started the blog just to share my experiences as a new mother shortly after I had my daughter 8 years ago. It turned into a side income soon after.
How long have you been blogging for and when did you begin to monetize?
Over 8 years. I monetized about 6 months into blogging
What's your monthly blog income like? (Pocket money, part time, full time or if you're happy to share the figure)
It’s more pocket money and definitely part time as I have a full time job. Some months I make $300 and some I make $1500. It’s not consistent.
How exactly do you make money from your blog?
Sponsored posts and being an affiliate to programs I believe in and use myself.
Were there any steps you took to prep your blog for making money?
Basically writing on the blog regularly and building an audience, using social media to engage with other bloggers, PR, and brands. Basically just being open to opportunities that came my way, accepting lower payment at first and gradually growing from experience
Has it been an easy process to make money from your blog? Why?
I wouldn’t say it has been easy, it takes effort to keep putting my blog out there and contacting brands I want to work with. On occasion I have good opportunities come my way, but I still feel it’s due to my constant work trying to get my blog out there and visible.
How many hours per week do you work on your blog? Has this changed over time?
Probably about 20 - it’s daily whenever I have downtime. It hasn’t changed over time. I think it’s a constant effort but I enjoy it, so it’s pleasant work. Seeing the benefits in pay and extra money in the household makes it all the more worth it.
What are your aims for your blog in the future? Do you plan on increasing your income and how?
I would love to increase my income. I just want to continue to grow the blog. Interests and focus have changed over time, from a parenting blog I would say it has evolved to more lifestyle. Also, with the purchase of our first home in the beginning of this year, home, interior decor and gardening have become a focus.
If someone is totally new to blogging, what should they concentrate on most to start making money?
I think concentrate on keeping your blog updated, make connections with other bloggers and networks on social media.
Are there any drawbacks to running a money making blog?
Yes, downtime is difficult to get. Constantly being on Twitter and other platforms, posting and doing all the work instead of just taking time to be with family when not at work.
What inspires you to blog and what is the best thing about blogging?
I love writing. I always have. Getting to work with brands I have always admired and just the opportunity to receive these perks and speak about my own experiences with products I love is definitely gratifying.
Would you still blog even if you couldn’t make money doing it and why?
I think so, it’s fun for me.
Do you think blogging is here to stay and why?
Yes. More and more bloggers are popping up. I think brands like the real person experience and that level of marketing is something that can be honest and relatable to potential consumers (when honestly and transparency are there).
Thank you so much for taking part in my Money Making Blogger interview series and best of luck with your blog!
Helpful articles if you want to monetise your blog:
It’s so easy to spend money frivolously nowadays. In fact, you don’t even have to open your wallet to do it now - you can tap your phone, and the money’s gone. All of a sudden you’ve spent money impulsively that you weren’t planning to. It’s so tempting to spend money so easily with so many food delivery apps and online shopping options. Even online you can save your card details to your browser and pay for items in a couple of clicks. There’s no need to even get your card to enter the details – just remember your security code and you can purchase things in a few seconds.
Whilst this all certainly makes things much more hassle-free when shopping, it also makes it very easy to overspend.
If you feel you've wasted a lot of money in 2018, then perhaps it’s time to have a look at your spending and see where you could cut back, or even where you can make more money in the New Year.
Here are 20 ways to make and save more money in 2019:
Finding a discount code can be just as easy as hitting ‘pay’ on your phone. Just search for the retailer's name and "promo codes” on Google and if there’s one available, it will come up. Sometimes you’ll find lots of expired ones, so there are even coupon browser extensions that combat this problem by automatically telling you about any offer codes for the site you are currently viewing.
2. Sell sell sell
With all the things you’ve bought and overspent on in 2018, you must have plenty you need to get rid of. Again, there are so many options now of where you can sell your old clothes, toys, sporting goods – you name it - you don’t have to throw anything away again! Even if you have a broken laptop, it might be able to be sold for parts. Check before you throw anything away because you never know and it all adds up. I’ve often sold broken iPhones on eBay and I’m always surprised at how much they sell for. With so much going to landfill nowadays you should always sell, give away, donate or recycle unwanted items. You can even recycle textiles and clothing easily, so this should never go into your bin.
3. Change where you shop
These sites where you can sell your unwanted items, such as eBay and Facebook Marketplace, you could also go to for buying your items for cheaper. There’s nothing wrong with second-hand goods, and you can get some excellent bargains, especially if you shop for bundles of clothing. Equally, charity shops have some fab bargains and some excellent quality stuff. Finally, ditch the brands. When it comes to food shopping, don’t pay for the packaging and the branding, it’s often the same inside, and some of the highest quality food is from the cheaper supermarkets. Even the budget supermarkets offer organic options nowadays, so you can still get high quality chemical-free food for a fraction of the price of the better known or upmarket supermarkets.
4. Go green
Many people are now opting for Green Energy which is on the rise. There’s a double incentive to go green – you’re doing your bit for the environment, and you will also save money through lower bills. Some companies may charge a premium for going green with your energy bills, but that’s not always the case nowadays. In fact we saved over £250 by switching to renewable energy this year. (If you click on that last link you can save yourself an extra £50 on your energy if you make the switch too).
5. Mystery shopping
This is a great way to earn an extra bit of money but also get free stuff in the process. Mystery shops could be a meal out which you’ll be reimbursed for as well as getting paid, or it could be a trip to the cinema. One of my favourite mystery task companies is Roamler – simply download the app and you could make a few quid every time you pop to the supermarket.
6. Switch your mortgage
You can use a mortgage comparison site to find the best deal for you if you are searching for a mortgage. It’s always worth checking if switching to a new deal can help you save, especially if you are coming to the end of your fixed term or even if the interest rates of mortgages have reduced drastically since you took yours out. You can get expert advice on whether changing mortgage is a good move for you from Which? Mortgage Advisers.
There are loads of companies giving cash back these days! Sounds too good to be true, but it’s not, honest! If you shop online, get into the habit of using cashback websites to save every time you make a purchase. All you need to do is go to the cashback site first and type in the name of the retailer you are purchasing from, then click the link on the cashback site to go to the retailer. This tracks your purchase and you’ll get cashback, if available. When you shop using the tracked links from Quidco and TopCashback, you can earn a percentage (typically 1%-15%) of what you spend back.
8. Join loyalty schemes
Loyalty schemes that are free join are a great way to rack up savings as you spend. Supermarket loyalty cards are so handy, but there are others you might not have heard of such as The Body Shop Love Your Body, the Nando’s Card, my John Lewis, IKEA Family, and Boots Advantage are some of the most generous ones out there. I love Tesco Clubcard and even use their credit card to pay for everything (and pay it back right away) just to get the points! We change the points for restaurant vouchers to have free meals out!
Families, friends, and neighbours can share so many things to save money. Power tools, lawn mowers, and luggage are just the start. Look for ongoing savings by sharing phone plans or streaming video subscriptions, too. Services like Netflix have a package where you can watch on four devices at any one time for £9.99 per month at the time of writing – simply sign up with three friends and pay £2.50 each per month to have access on one device each!
There are some brilliant websites such as WhatUsersDo where you can test websites or answer a few questions about your opinion of a new website design or function, for £5 per test! It’s an easy way to make a little extra money from home to top up your savings.
11.Use money making apps
There are numerous money making apps out there today such as Streetbees which allow you to answer simple questions to make money from home. These aren’t going to make you rich, but all the money adds up and can go towards your savings goals.
12.Stop watching TV
We saved lots of money this year by cancelling our TV licence. So long as you don’t watch or record live TV or use BBC iPlayer then you don’t actually need a licence. We only watch Netflix, FMTV and YouTube, so we don’t need a licence for any of this. If you don’t watch normal telly anymore then work out what you do actually watch and if you really need a TV licence anymore.
13.Set up a direct debit to your savings
On the date that all your bills go out, such as the first of the month, or on payday, set up a direct debit of a reasonable amount from your current account to your savings account. Then leave it there. Budget for the rest of the month with what you have left. By treating your savings as an outgoing/bill that has to go out each month before you start spending, you might be more likely to stick to your savings goals.
14.Sign up for price drop alerts
If you love to shop online then check out ShopToList who will notify you every time an item you save to their browser extension is reduced in price. You can create a wish list with them to bookmark all your favourite items, but the best feature is that they’ll automatically alert you to a price decrease via email.
15.Use supermarket coupon apps
There are lots of supermarket coupon apps like GreenJinn, CheckoutSmart and Shopmium that offer virtual coupons via a smart phone app. You buy the product, upload the receipt and then get the cash back after.
16.Choose the cheapest car insurance
There’s a site called Mustard that promises to beat your cheapest online car insurance quote! Use a comparison site to find the cheapest, get the quote and then contact Mustard with the details and they say they’ll best it.
It’s often said that we only wear 10% of our wardrobe on a regular basis, so stop wasting money on clothes and create a capsule wardrobe instead. Not only will this save money over the coming year, but you’ll save so much time deciding what to wear each morning!
19.Save money on meals and days out with the kids
Sign up for Kids Pass to save on family meals and days out with offers such as free entry for kids, free meals for kids and huge discounts at popular resorts, restaurants and family attractions.
20.Make cash from your receipts
You can also make money from your receipts, believe it or not! Sign up to the apps Shoppix and Receipt Hog to collect points with each receipt which you can exchange for cash!
Phew! So there you have it, there are plenty of options for you to make 2019 a success financially and have some fun along the way. Getting into looking for coupons and money off deals can be a fun hobby and quite addictive, and it can save you a fortune! Plus you can make extra money from home with a few apps and online websites.