UK lifestyle and money blog

Victoria Sully Nov 2018 Circle Logo

 

Welcome to the Lylia Rose UK money and lifestyle blog.  My name is Victoria Sully.  I'm a busy mum of two, wife, full-time blogger and online money-maker who’s always trying to make and save more money.  I’m passionate about making money online, healthy living and blogging.  I’m a mama on a mission to be healthier and wealthier!  Please join me on my journey.


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Category: Family, Lifestyle & Opinion

  1. Save time, space and money with a capsule wardrobe

    Posted on

    If you’re always short on time, space in your home and money, then choosing to have a capsule wardrobe could solve all of these things! 

    Read on for tips on how I manage my capsule wardrobe, as well as how it will help you spend less and become clutter-free in your wardrobe.

    Being a minimalist

    I’ve shared my story a few times on my blog of how I believe I came to be a minimalist and lover of a capsule wardrobe.  To cut a long story short, I moved house several times in my late teens and early twenties which included renting rooms in shared houses and bedsits. 

    Not only did I not want to lug so many belongings with me for each house move, but I also didn’t have much space at each property.  I didn’t need to buy a lot of furniture and home décor as I only had a bedroom to furnish.

    Once I settled with my husband I then had more space and belongings did at first begin to grow.  They also grew with the arrival of our children who need a lot of things and grow out of things far too quickly!  But having lots of stuff makes my head fuzzy! 

    I’m not one for mess or clutter and even just knowing I have things sat unused in cupboards or attics makes my head feel noisy.  I’m definitely a minimalist by nature and so I’m always minimalizing our belongings so we don’t have too many items and only exactly what we need and use.

    Ben still has a corner in the attic full of mostly junk which drives me quite insane.  I’m sure he keeps it there just to irritate me. Every time I go up to the loft I see if I can find a couple of pieces that I can pass on or recycle.  Believe me; he even has empty boxes up there from old electronics!

    Stay clutter free in your closet with a capsule wardrobe

    Save time, space and money with a capsule wardrobe (1)

    One thing I have now got Ben on-board with is a capsule wardrobe.  I was already doing it for me and the kids and now he’s reduced his clothing collection too.

    I’m forever clearing out the kids’ wardrobes as they outgrow their clothes so quickly.  I only keep a small amount of clothes for them.  Only what they need.

    Related - How to create an autumn capsule children’s wardrobe

    My own wardrobe is now down to around 50 items.  That’s in total, for the whole year.  I have a few items hanging – mostly tops, cardigans and a few dresses.  Then I have a pile of shorts, trousers and leggings.  I wear the trousers in the winter with boots and the summer with flip-flops.  I also have a box of underwear and a box of gym clothes and pyjamas.  I have two coats and a small selection of shoes – wellies, two pairs of winter boots, two pairs of pumps, one pair of flip-flops, smart flats and smart heels.  That’s it.  To be fair I could even get rid of the heels as I never wear them!

    I wear stuff until it needs replacing or totally goes out of shape, not just a few times until I’m bored of it.  This makes me much more careful with my clothing choices when shopping.  It has to be something I will wear numerous times before I’ll consider buying it.

    I’ve still tried to cut my own wardrobe down even more, but I think I’m now at my minimum!  Ben’s clothes take up around half our homemade triple size wardrobe and mine take up around a quarter!

    Save money, only buy what you really need

    My trick is to layer in the winter and reduce layers in the summer.  I pretty much wear the same wardrobe all year round.  Only in the summer I won’t wear my boots or fluffy cardigan.  Otherwise you’ll see me in the same outfits.  In the summer I might wear my trousers with a pair of flip-flops and a vest top.  But in the winter I’ll wear both the trousers and vest top, but I’ll add a t-shirt, cardigan, socks and boots.

    I don’t see the need to buy specific winter and summer clothes when I can make do with what I have.  Most clothes are suitable for all seasons, but it’s a case of layering them up when it’s colder. Even some summer dresses can have a pair of woolly tights or leggings added with a chunky cardigan to make them winter-worthy!

    Having one set of clothes, instead of several sets of seasonal clothes, is definitely a much cheaper option.

    Be intentional when buying clothes

    Save time, space and money with a capsule wardrobe

    My actual wardrobe (a couple of outfits are in the wash)

    This year, 2019, I am doing a zero spend on clothes for the whole year!  I am challenging myself to not buy any clothes for the entire year.  I took a good look at my wardrobe and though it’s looking pretty scarce, I believe I have enough to get me through an entire year, all the seasons and beyond. 

    In recent years I’ve not been a big clothes shopper anyway, but I’d still sometimes splurge on something I spotted at the supermarket or that caught my eye passing a store.  It’s usually these unintentional clothing purchases that end up sat in my wardrobe not getting worn very much!  They are quick impulse buys for a moment of pleasure and I didn’t ever give them much thought.  They were excitable purchases!

    So even though I didn’t do it very much, I was still a sucker for quick impulse buys that I didn’t really need.

    By stopping this altogether I will definitely save money this year.

    I’m also making a promise to be intentional in the future when buying clothes, so I only buy what I set out to buy because I really need it.

    Less choice, more time

    I tend to wear the same clothes most days.  I get stuck on a favourite comfy outfit and I’ll wear it several days in a row.  Life is so much easier and quicker like this!

    In my late teens I had a huge shopping addiction.  I was obsessed with shopping for clothes and had around four rails overflowing with clothes and piles of clothes underneath. 

    I wasn’t always a minimalist!

    It was really ridiculous, but also very overwhelming.

    Getting ready took forever.  There was so much choice every time I needed to get dressed.  I had so many options and so many decisions to make. 

    I must have wasted hours every week just putting outfits on and off whilst I chopped and changed my mind.

    What a waste of time!

    Reducing that choice means you’ll have far more time to do other things.  Sometimes having less options is better!

    Smaller wardrobe, more space

    You can now even buy some space-saving and beautifully designed single wardrobes which are perfect for keeping your capsule wardrobes on track.  I love the MADE white single wardrobes I found here at Lionshome, but there are even cheaper options too.  Or like us, you can make your own wardrobe.  They are plenty large enough for all the clothes you really need and if you can’t fit your clothes in, then you’ve got too many!

    Not only is a smaller wardrobe a cheaper option than a full size version, but think of the bedroom space you will free up!  Large bulky wardrobes can impose on so much of the available space in a bedroom, especially if space is at a premium, so a single slim wardrobe is a much neater solution.

    We originally had a regular size wardrobe each and I remember having to persuade Ben that we’d be fine with one triple wardrobe between us instead.  I wanted to create more space in our bedroom and this reduced our wardrobe space by around 25%. 

    Ben was convinced and built us a lovely triple sized wardrobe from old pallet wood which he refurbished.  Now I think we could have gone even smaller and saved more space in our bedroom!

    Not only have we saved space with a smaller wardrobe to what we originally had, but we have also got rid of a couple of chests of drawers which used to house clothes.  Now we just have the wardrobe and need nothing else.

    How to save time, money and space with a capsule wardrobe

    Having a capsule wardrobe really does suit my lifestyle and make clothing a lot more organised and affordable.  I’d definitely recommend it if you are overwhelmed with the amount of clothing you own and want a simpler life.

    To finish, here’s a quick look at how a capsule wardrobe is beneficial:

    • Save time – less time shopping for clothes you don’t need, less time choosing outfits, less time spent laundering, ironing and organising clothes
    • Save money – Buying less clothes will save money.  Needing less storage for the clothes will save money on furniture.
    • Save space – the less clothes you have, the less storage space you need for them.  Reclaim space in your bedroom by choosing a single wardrobe. 
    • Stay organised – clothes washing becomes easier as there is less variety of clothes.  Wardrobes stay organised and spacious as there are less clothes in them.  Find clothes easier.  Less clothes means less clutter and makes it easier to keep wardrobes neat and tidy.

     

    Related content

    Why every woman should create a capsule wardrobe

    Keep your clothing costs down with subtle fashion

    How my bedroom décor describes my personality

    Save time, space and money with a capsule wardrobe

  2. Joint bank account or separate finances for a happy marriage?

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    Advertorial post with Aviva

    A question I see debated a lot online is ‘should couples get joint bank accounts?’  The idea of combining finances with your other half can be quite a scary thought to some.  For my husband and I we decided to share a bank account once we were married, had two children and owned a house together.  It just made financial sense.  It is traditional for married couples to get joint bank accounts, but many people argue the key to a happy relationship is separate finances.

    I’ll be honest with you - we also have separate bank accounts too.  So really, my answer is both.  The key to our happy marriage is to have both a joint bank account and separate bank accounts too. 

    I’m totally in favour of a joint bank account for organisation of family finances.  Read on to see how we manage our finances as a married couple with children and why I believe financial honesty is important.

    It was never about money

    Joint bank account or separate finances for a happy marriage (1)

    When Ben and I got together we were roughly on the same wage.  I think Ben made around £1000 more than me per year.  I regularly did overtime, so I expect I probably made more because of this.  Our relationship never has been and never will be based on income. 

    That said, I would never have dated someone who was unemployed through choice with no motivation to get a job, but that’s simply because I know we would not share the same interests and future goals.  But if Ben had earned half as much as me then it wouldn’t have mattered.  I believe he would have felt the same vice-versa.  Income wasn’t a deciding factor for either of us when it came to choosing a partner.

    There’s actually a funny money story about our second date.  Ben invited me to his house for a romantic meal one night after work.  We worked at the same company so we left my car at work and took his.  He needed to pick up some ingredients on the way home.  I went in to the supermarket with him and rather embarrassingly, for him, his card was declined at the checkout!  I found it quite comical and offered to pay for the ingredients.  It turned out he had maxed out his overdraft!

    I think from this experience we both knew we weren’t with each other for money!

    Deciding to open a joint bank account

    Joint bank account or separate finances for a happy marriage_

    Despite Ben’s date disaster in the first couple of weeks we were together, our relationship thrived and we ended up married with two children and bought a home together, all in the first four years of our relationship!  Things progressed very quickly and even though we had separate bank accounts until we got married, we have always been very open and honest about our financial situations and earnings to make money decisions together.  There was no other way for our relationship to work so well.

    Before we were married and had children we had separate bank accounts and we never really considered having a joint account.  It was strange really as we always shared all our money anyway.  We always discussed finances and if Ben ran out and needed money then I’d give him some and likewise he would for me.  We were always shifting money between our accounts and having to ask each other how much money we had, which bills had gone out and so on to see where we were financially all the time. 

    We never had money left at the end of the month and honestly, it was a bit of a shambles.  Ben had all the bills going out of his account and I had no clue how much any of them were.  I constantly had to ask.

    Once we bought our house together and had two children, we decided to write a will.  It was at this point it was suggested to have a joint bank account to make everything easier if one of us died.  I can’t remember the exact details, but if Ben had died and all the bills were going out of his account, then it would have been slightly complicated for me to get access to the account.  A type of hassle you really don’t need if your husband dies.

    This planted the seed and we decided it was probably a good idea to open a joint bank account for all our wages to go into and all of our bills out of.  Combining all our finances suddenly seemed to make sense.  If it didn’t work out then we’d revert back to separate accounts, or even just keep one main joint account for bills and separate the rest.

    How we’ve benefitted from a joint bank account

    Joint bank account or separate finances for a happy marriage_ (2)

    Luckily, the joint account has been a success!  It’s been around three or four years since we opened a joint account and it makes our lives so much easier.  Well, it makes Ben’s life so much easier!

    I don’t think Ben was ever particularly good at the budgeting, nor did he enjoy it.  In fact I don’t think he budgeted at all.  He was happy for me to just take over the money side of things and create a monthly budget.

    It was easiest for Ben to add me to his account as all the direct debits for the house were already set up here, so I was added as a joint account holder to his existing bank account.   I was able to see how much all of our bills were and see where we were spending.  I created a spreadsheet for our incomings and outgoings to see exactly what we had left at the end of each month.

    Now I manage all the finances, but Ben obviously can still access them too and has his own card.  I update our spreadsheet as bills go out and we put a lump sum into our joint savings each month.  Before sharing an account we had no savings at all.  Ben would never keep an eye on our incomings or outgoings - we’d just constantly spend at the supermarket willy-nilly without ever knowing how much money we ever had.  Like I said, it was previously a shambles.

    Now we have a joint account we can both see what is coming in and what is going out.  We can hold each other accountable and we don’t spend money unnecessarily.  It’s enabling us to build some savings and be more careful with our money.   We previously shared our money anyway, so a joint account makes our finances a lot easier to manage.

    Having separate spending money

    Joint bank account or separate finances for a happy marriage_ (1)

    At first we never had separate spending money as we were doing up our home.  We still are doing up our home, but in those first couple of years every spare penny we had went on the house.  This meant we had no spending money really, but as time went on and we started spending less on the house Ben said he wanted spending money.

    He wanted to be able to buy himself something for lunch at work if he so desired, or grab himself some clothes or tools without having to ask all the time.  This was totally fair enough and even though I felt a bit guilty of having spending money for ourselves at first, and not just the family as a whole, I decided it was a good idea.

    After paying the bills, budgeting for fuel and food, and putting a chunk into our savings, we decided the rest would be split three ways as spending money for the family, Ben and me.  Our own spending money is ours to do what we want with – we can spend it, save it, whatever we like with no judgement on each other for what it’s spent on.  It’s our own personal allowance! 

    It might sound silly as most adults have their own money and do with it what they wish, which we did pre-kids and pre-house, but our money responsibilities changed once we had these things.  Now we have some money to spend on ourselves again each month there is a slight feeling of guilt, but also it’s so exciting on payday, like how a child feels getting their pocket money!

    For this reason, Ben opened his own bank account.  At first we were both having cash, but Ben often buys tools and DIY bits and pieces online, so he wanted to be able to pay by card.  Of course he could use our card, but he is terrible at tracking how much he is spending when making lots of little purchases and would have no idea how much money he had left.  It’s been easier to just pay ourselves an allowance each month that is separate from the joint bank account.

    So as well as having a joint bank account, we now have separate bank accounts too for our own individual spending money from what is left over after all bills, savings and family expenses each month.

    What’s mine is yours

    Joint bank account or separate finances for a happy marriage (2)

    For our finances to work how they do, we have to see each other as equal.  We share our money regardless of how much the other one earns.  At the moment we earn a similar wage again so it isn’t a big deal.  I do wonder if that will ever change if one of us earns a lot more, but I like to think it wouldn’t.  I’m sure if my wage doubled then I’d still be happy to share this equally between us all.

    Obviously we haven’t always earned the same.  We did in the beginning and now we are close again.  But having had two children my financial family contributions dropped drastically at times.

    We had our first child only 16 months after our relationship started, so quite quickly we had to deal with me being on maternity leave and then making the decision for me not to return to work.  Instead I worked a part time job whilst trying to start my own business at home. 

    Even though Ben was earning a lot more than me at this point, we still always shared all our money.  I never felt like this was unfair as I provided full time care for our baby whilst Ben worked.  I then worked in the evenings as much as possible.  We saw it as an equal partnership.

    I also worked hard to start my own business and over the next couple of years I ended up working two more part time jobs to supplement our income when needed, especially after having our second child.

    Giving up my job meant I lost a lot of benefits such as a workplace pension, pay rises and climbing up the career ladder.  Of course I could have kept that job, but we’d have been more financially worse off than me getting a part-time minimum wage job, due to full-time childcare costs.  It made more sense for me to quit my full-time job and be a stay-at-home mum to our daughter in the daytimes and work an evening job outside of my husband’s work hours.  This meant we avoided childcare costs and actually got to retain all the money I was earning.

    Now we have a three year old and a six year old and I’m self-employed which gives me the flexibility to work around nursery, pre-school, school hours and school holidays.  I make a commitment to the family doing this and so if Ben earns slightly more than me then that’s his commitment to the family.  We are still in an equal partnership. 

    I have finally started to save money for a pension for myself now I’m in my thirties and this is the first pension savings I’ve ever had.   I’ve definitely missed out on a few years of starting to build a pension in an employed role and so Ben is much better off than me pension-wise as he has a workplace pension.  I’ve also taken a big step back on the career ladder and would have to start from scratch if I needed to enter the employed workforce again.  (Please note, there are lots of different types of pensions and it’s important to know that the value of your pension can go down as well as up and you may get back less than has been paid in.  Do always check the terms and conditions for any pensions you are signing up for.)

    For all these reasons we see ourselves as equal when it comes to finances.  We will share our bank accounts with each other, our pensions, savings and our debts. 

    Honesty is the best policy

    Joint bank account or separate finances for a happy marriage_ (3)

    I’ve read online articles before that claim some people keep a secret bank account from their partner and some women even have a runaway fund!  Personally I find that a little bit crazy.  As far as I’m aware my husband and I have no secret bank accounts from each other, well at least I don’t.  I’m pretty sure he doesn’t either as we are very open about our money with all our wages going into the shared bank account on payday.

    I read an article in the Daily Mail once and the writer said ‘few marriages would survive if both parties were completely honest about finance.’  I totally disagree.  I think it’s important to be honest about money in a marriage and that it’s something you both need to be on the same page with. 

    Of course everyone will spend money on some things that the other wouldn’t.  Ben would never spend money on beauty treatments, the same as I wouldn’t think of spending mine on tools.  But for the bigger picture I think for a relationship to be successful then you need to share roughly the same spending and saving goals or it will never work. 

    I once read a quote along the lines of the key to a happy marriage is being in agreement of how to spend your time and money.  I believe that’s so true as otherwise you will always clash with one another.

    Luckily as you can probably tell from this entire blog post, we are transparent with each other and open about all aspects of money.  I would have thought it to be the other way around to how the above writer feels– that a marriage would not survive unless both parties were honest about finances.

    If you’re going to have a runaway fund then fine, though I’d call it something else!  But if I had one then my husband would know about it.  I wouldn’t need a secret fund that I didn’t tell him about.  If someone wants savings for their own security in the future then I’d think that was sensible and it wouldn’t need to be concealed.

    What about financial separation?

    Joint bank account or separate finances for a happy marriage (3)

    To be honest, I’ve never really thought about what would happen if the relationship breaks down with regards to our joint bank accounts, but I would automatically assume that everything would be divided equally.  We’ve never discussed it, so hopefully it’s a sign it won’t happen, but obviously we are realistic too and know things don’t last forever.  I’d like to think we’d be amicable and sort things out fairly.

    We have a joints savings account and if we were to ever split up then it would be divided 50-50.  I have no worries about that.

    As for the joint current bank account we can easily move direct debits around, cancel them and arrange for our wages to be paid into our own separate accounts instead.  We always make sure we stay in credit on our joint account, so there’s no issue of having an overdraft to pay back.  We own a home and have equity, so if we ever did have debt on joint accounts then we’d have a way of paying it back.

     

    In conclusion I think a joint bank account is a great way to stay on top of family finances and to hold each other accountable for frivolous spending.  However, that doesn’t mean you can’t also have your own bank accounts too.  Ultimately it’s up to each couple to work out what makes financial sense for their own situation, but I believe transparency and honesty about money will make a happy relationship no matter whether you choose shared or separate bank accounts.  

     

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    Joint bank account or separate finances for a happy marriage

     

  3. Last minute Valentine's Day gift ideas for all budgets

    Posted on

    2019 is whizzing by already.  It’s half term next week, yet I feel like the children have only just returned to school after the Christmas holidays!  We’re almost half way through February which means the day of love is almost upon us.  If you’re feeling withdrawal symptoms from Christmas then this is the perfect excuse for another burst of gift shopping and present giving. 

    In this blog post I will share some last minute Valentine’s Day gift ideas to suit all budgets and (hopefully) don’t have long delivery times.  So whether you’re totally broke, on a shoestring or you have cash to splash, here are some ideas for all of you.

    Last minute Valentines Day gift ideas for all budgets (1)

    Zero budget

    So you’re broke as a joke and have precisely zero pounds to spend.  No worries.  Not everything has to cost a pretty penny.  Be inventive and come up with your own unique gift.  It could be your very own at-home spa evening.  Treat your other half to a candle lit bath followed by a massage.

    Create your own set of ‘IOU’ Valentine’s coupons that can be redeemed for special treats or tasks.  These could be naughty, luxurious or even housework or chores they detest doing! 

    If you’re great at baking and you’ve already got the ingredients in your store cupboards, then bake them a cake, some delicious brownies or whatever you are great at whipping up.

    All these things can be prepared in no time at all, well a bit of time for the baking, so no need to panic if you’ve left things until the last minute.

    Some budget

    Money is tight, but you’ve got a bit of disposable cash to buy a gift, so what do you choose?

    If you’re traditional romantics then flowers and chocolates for her are always a winner.  For him, he’ll probably just want the chocolates!

    To make it more personal then skip the generic flowers and choccies and instead buy them a bunch of their favourite snacks and treats.  Buy a gift bag and fill it with their favourite goodies.

    A romantic meal for two at home or their favourite takeaway on the night is easy to organise and surprise them with.

    These things can be purchased from most local shops and supermarkets right up until the day.  It’s a last minute Valentine’s Day gift idea winner!

    A bit more budget

    So you’ve got a reasonable amount of cash to spend, but you’ve got no time left to traipse around the shops to search for the perfect gift.  You’ve left it too late and time is no longer on your side.  Never fear as you can still get something they love either online or from a store near you!

    Whilst gift vouchers may seem like a cop out, they are perfect in this situation and can be found at most major supermarket stores, even your local Co-ops!  Who doesn’t love receiving free money to choose exactly what they want?

    A subscription is also the perfect last minute gift idea, as well as being the gift that keeps on giving.  There are so many subscriptions to choose from such as a flower subscription, snack boxes, beauty boxes or their favourite magazine.

    Plenty of cash to splash

    If cash isn’t an issue and you’re looking to splurge, then the world of gifts really is your oyster.  For the person who has everything then how about a DNA testing kit?  This is a unique gift that could reveal details of their ancestry or more specific tests can be purchased such as DNA health or fitness tests if they’re passionate about keeping fit and healthy and want to maximise their goals.

    A spa day or weekend spa break is always a winner.  Who doesn’t love a guilt-free opportunity to relax, kick back and be pampered for a while, away from the hectic-ness of our busy lives?

    If they get enough relaxing or can’t sit still for more than two minutes, then an experience day could be the one.  From racing supercars around a track to skydiving or a helicopter ride, there’s an experience out there to suit all tastes and levels of adrenaline.

    All these things can be purchased online and given as a voucher.  Some DNA kit websites offer vouchers too so they can pick which test they want to do, or you can choose for them.

     

    There we have it.  A few last minute Valentine’s­ Day gifts to suit whatever budget you may have that don't require weeks of planning or ordering in advance!

     

    Related blog posts:
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    Last minute Valentines Day gift ideas for all budgets

    Collaborative post

  4. Blog giveaway – Win a free annual Kids Pass membership

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    It’s almost half term and to celebrate I've teamed up with Kids Pass, the UK’s No.1 Family Discounts App for your chance to win a FREE Kids Pass annual membership.

    The Kids Pass App gives you instant access to 1,000’s of offers, including up to 40% off cinemas nationwide (7 days a week, adult and child), kids eat free at 1000’s of restaurants, up to 65% off family days out, up to 10% off UK family breaks and up to 50% off Eurocamp holidays!

    Want to try Kids Pass for yourself? Start a £1 trial for 30 days

    How to save money on days out this February half term with Kids Pass

    Blog giveaway – Win a free annual Kids Pass membership - half term save mon

    Are you struggling for ideas for days out this February half term that will keep the whole family happy as well as your bank balance? For just £1 you can sign up for a trial Kids Pass membership and gain instant access to 1000’s of family friendly offers on the Kids Pass app!

    This really is the best £1 you’ll spend this half term, as you could potentially save over £90* in just a week…

    • Planning a trip to the cinema? You’d save on average £10.34 on your cinema tickets
    • Fancy a meal out? You can cut £15.90 off your food bill
    • Taking your tot for a sensory day at the aquarium? Average savings of £24.00 on aquarium tickets for the whole family
    • Off to see furry friends at the zoo? You can save your family £40.00 on zoo tickets

    *based on family of four (2 adults, 2 children)

    How does it work?
    You pay £1 for a 30 day trial membership, after this you can cancel or continue your subscription for £3.99 per month. For these 30 days you have full access to all the offers on the Kids Pass app and website.

    Blog giveaway – Win a free annual Kids Pass membership

    What does it get me? 
    Instant access to 1,000’s of offers, including up to 40% off cinemas nationwide (7 days a week, adult and child), kids eat free at 1000’s of restaurants, up to 65% off family days out including leading theme parks, and up to 10% off UK family breaks and up to 50% off Eurocamp holidays.

    Does one membership cover the whole family?
    Yes! Your Kids Pass covers the entire household, that’s Mum, Dad, the kids (whether you have one or ten!), Granny and Grandad too!

    How do I use it?
    You can download the free Kids Pass app from all major app stores, which is easy to navigate, or you can use the Kids Pass website to search for offers.

    How do I redeem offers?
    Most of the offers are completely digital meaning that tickets or promo codes can be sent straight to your phone, however some tickets are still paper and will be posted to you via Royal Mail.

    What’s the catch?
    There isn’t one! You can cancel your monthly subscription at any time.

    Claim your trial
    Join over 2 million members and click here to start a £1 trial today!

    Win a free annual Kids Pass membership

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    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Giveaway terms:

    • There will be one winner
    • The prize is a free annual Kids Pass membership
    • There is no cash alternative
    • There is no limit on the number of entries per person, follow the instructions to enable multiple entries
    • Winners will be notified within 28 days
    • Prizes will be sent within 28 days of receiving the winners email address
    • The winner must claim their prize within 28 days or it will be forfeited
    • All entries must be received by the date and time specified
    • The winner will be picked at random by Rafflecopter & notified by email
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  5. January 2019 mont­­hly family roundup

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    Welcome to my UK family lifestyle roundup.  It's a monthly roundup where you get an insight into the person behind this blog and what my little family and I have been up to for a whole month.  It's also a place for me to document our lives each month and save them in this category so we can look back through them and remember what we've done!

    If you follow me on Instagram then you’re probably up to date!  But here is a more in-depth blog post of things we’ve been up to and family happenings.

    We're a family of four - Victoria 33, Ben 35, Bella 6 and Reuben 3 in Gloucestershire, south west England, UK.

    Catch up on some of my previous family roundups here: 
    January 2018
    February 2018
    March 2018
    April 2018
    May and June 2018
    July 2018
    August 2018
    September 2018
    October 2018
    November 2018
    December 2018

    January 2019 mont­­hly family roundup

    January has been half calm and half busy.  It’s my mum’s birthday in January so there’s always something to celebrate at the start of the year.  We’ve been cracking on with business plans and discussions as well as focusing on our savings.  My goal for 2019 is to save an emergency fund of £10,000.  I was half way there by the end of 2018.  I’d hoped to complete in 2018, but we lost a lot of money on selling Ben’s old car which typically got an engine problem as we came to sell (around £3000 lost) and then we had two big car repair bills for the new car within five months of owning it (£2400 for a new turbo and to replace the head gasket/top of the engine).  Very frustrating!  So I’m one year behind on my savings already thanks to annoying cars and also my dental work that was a LOT more than we expected.   But I am thankful we had been saving already and so had the funds available to pay for such extensive car repairs, towards a new car and for my pricey dental work.

    I’ve always been a spender, especially when younger getting into horrific debt at an early age, but now things have changed and I am focusing on spending less and saving more with specific goals in mind.  We’re even planning a no-spend month in February so we can really top up our savings!  I couldn’t do it in January as I had already booked a few appointments, meals out and have my mum’s birthday.  So it’s postponed to February and I’m actually looking forward to it.

    Before I crack on with the rest of January, here are my best Instagram posts (based on likes I believe) of 2018.  Goodbye 2018!

    January 2019 monthly family roundup 6

    Family businesses – a reflection and going forward

    Happy New Year!  2019 is well and truly here and we are all settling in nicely.  2018 was a great year for us overall.  My self-employed business had a successful year and improved greatly on 2017.  I’m hoping for an even better year in 2019 as I have four blogs now, so I hope I can increase my income and have plenty of back up too!  More blogs with more niches opens me up to more opportunities – well, that’s my plan!  I also love blogging so it makes sense to do more of what I love to make an income for myself.

    Related - How I made £35000 from home, blogging and online in 2018

    Ben started his handmade furniture business in 2018 and he hopes to grow it in 2019. Time is just the struggle for both of us, especially with two young children and Ben already having a full-time job.  We may just convert our playroom into an ensuite bedroom for a lodger after all.  It’s something we’ve ummed and arred about for a while and you may remember me mentioning it in previous blog posts.  This will give us an income to cover the mortgage payments and then perhaps Ben can have more freedom to pursue his passion and reconsider his existing career. 

    I know that’s what he wants to do ideally, but we obviously need his stable income at the moment as mine is never guaranteed.  It would definitely be risky for us to both be full-time self-employed at the moment.  Hopefully we can come up with some great ways to make this happen though in 2019 or even 2020!

    January 2019 monthly family roundup 2

    January has been a healthier month than December, where I let my usual healthy eating habits slide for a couple of weeks and then felt awful!

    The kids and school

    The kids had a great year.  Bella has completed her first term in year two, that’s the last year of infant school.  I can’t believe she will move up to juniors at the end of 2019!  This means it’s also time for Reuben to start school this year too as he turns four in March!  We have applied for his place and await the confirmation.  It’s the same school as Bella so there should be no issues with him getting a place there.  I’ve already heard that 14/30 of the new school places will be filled with siblings and 10 of those are boys!  Wow!

    January 2019 monthly family roundup 8

    Christmas school holidays

    So the first week of January was the school holidays.  Ben was back to work, but he had New Year’s Day off.  We went to Stratford Park in Stroud with the kids for the afternoon.  It’s somewhere I went as a child so it’s great to take my own children now and see them have so much fun there.  We spent a day with my mum and sister playing at our home.  We spent a morning at Jungle Chums soft play in Thornbury with my friend who has four boys, so the kids loved that.  The kids went to holiday club the other two days of that week so I could crack on with some work.  We also saw Ben’s Dad at the end of the week for Christmas and went for a carvery at The Fountain Inn in the Forest of Dean – they did a vegan option for us.

    Back to school, pre-school and nursery

    The second week of January was back to school, work, nursery and so on as normal.  I felt totally in hibernation mode and the weather really seemed to get freezing that week, so I struggled to get back in the swing of things in the day times, which only led to catching up at night staying up late and being tired again the next day… a catch-22 situation I needed to get myself out of sharpish!  The kids settled back into school and nursery well and after a week the holidays seemed an age away already as they always do.

    Vegan meal at The Red Lion, Wainlode Hill

    It’s my mum’s birthday in January so we met up for a meal at The Red Lion pub and restaurant in Norton, Gloucestershire on Wainlode Hill.  It’s a place me and Ben used to go to for a drink after work when we first got together as it was on the way home from work!  It’s set by the river so perfect for sitting outside on a sunny day and then wandering off for a walk along the river and through the meadows.

    Luckily they had some great vegan options.  Ben ordered roasted avocado which was stuffed with sundried tomatoes, garlic oil and pine nuts on a bed of salad leaves and baby potatoes.  Me and the kids had a pumpkin and potato hot pot with vegetables.  The kids weren’t too impressed and barely tried it.  I’m sure if they did then they’d have been fine.  Mine was OK, but I’ll be ordering the avocado if we ever return!  Mine was a tasty but like a bowl of mush.  I’d have preferred the veg to still be chunky and have a bit of firmness!  It’s a lovely place though and has been refurbished since we used to go years ago and now has a rustic cosy feel.

    A day out in Stroud town and a vegan lunch

    January 2019 monthly family roundup 7

    At the start of January I had a day out in Stroud with two of my friends.  We live so close to Stroud and often go to a park there called Stratford Park with the kids, but I’ve never really explored the town centre.  It’s crazy really as they have a very indie vibe and lots of lovely vegan places to eat!  In 2019 I will explore these cafes and eateries more foe sure.  I’m already going back in February for a photo shoot as I need head shots for my business, so I hope to go for lunch again!

    In January I had a peek around the market and saw a few vegan options such as homemade vegan pasties.  We snuck our heads into a few vegan friendly cafes to check out the offerings, but decided to eat at Falafel Mama as soon as I spied someone’s amazing looking pitta they were eating outside!  It looked delicious so I had to try one.  They are vegan friendly and homemade falafels served in pittas or as salads with a huge selection of salads and condiments.  Mine was so good!  We also had a bliss ball each.  I loved the creative energy of the place, the friendly staff and the music.  I’ll definitely go back! 

    I’m starting to think I want to move to Stroud.  I feel it’s more my kind of place and lifestyle.  I’d love to sit and work in the cafes each day with my laptop!

    January 2019 monthly family roundup 4

    Bella in a 5000 year old house near Stroud

    Planning holidays and events

    Perhaps it’s the January and winter blues, especially as I said this is the year of saving and not holidaying, but towards the end of January I booked two holidays for 2019.  We will return to Bluestone Resort in Wales for a short stay in the Christmas holidays.  We went last year and loved it! 

    I’ve also booked to go to Pentewan Sands in Cornwall in the autumn.  A seven night break was only £400!  I’d much prefer to hop on a plane and go and get some guaranteed sunshine, like we did in 2018 to Fuerteventura, but it was so expensive.  We need some cheaper holidays this year so I can reach my savings goals.  £400 is an absolute bargain for a week in Cornwall, on a beach, with indoor pools, parks and a soft play.  Plus Bella is super excited to stay in a ‘caravan’.  I always find it funny people call them caravans – it’s actually more a mobile home. 

    When I was little we stayed in a real caravan – a dinky little thing where the table turned into the bed and you couldn’t swing a cat in it!  We’ve also been looking at a possible summer trip as we’d love to drive the Bongo to Europe, but I think we’ll wait and see how our savings goals go first.

    January 2019 monthly family roundup 3

    The usual

    Most of this month was just the usual. We go to the gym at least three times a week and the kids go to kids club.  Bella has swimming ever Saturday and she’s doing great – I think she’s even starting to enjoy it and so it’s becoming less of a chore to get her there!  It still sometimes takes her a while to get in the pool, but once she’s in she is off.  There’s some sort of fear there still that she’ll hopefully overcome this year.

     

    Pop back to my Monthly Family Roundups next month to see what we get up to in January!

    January 2019 mont__hly family roundup