UK lifestyle and money blog

Victoria Sully Nov 2018 Circle Logo

 

Welcome to the Lylia Rose UK money and lifestyle blog.  I'm Victoria Sully, a busy mum of two, wife, full-time blogger and online money-maker.  I’m passionate about making money online, saving money, self-employment, healthy living and blogging.  I’m on a personal mission to be healthier and wealthier!  Thank you so much for joining me.


 

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Category: Family, Lifestyle & Opinion

  1. How to lower energy bills on a PAYG tariff

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    This blog post is in association with Boost.

    It’s that time of year when we’re all feeling the pinch after Christmas and looking for ways to cut back, spend less and save as much money as possible.  This can be particularly tricky when it’s also the darkest and coldest time of the year.  We’re all using more energy than normal just to see and stay warm.  There’s always lots of advice out there for lowering energy bills, but what if you’re on a pay-as-you-go tariff?  Is it still possible for you to reduce your energy bills? 

    Years ago I used to be on a prepayment meter.  I was only around 18 or 19 at the time, having moved out of home at age 17, and I had no idea about how to save money whilst using a prepayment meter.  I didn’t even have the internet or a laptop as it was 15 years ago and smart phones didn’t exist. I was clueless about the ability to switch suppliers or how to save money when it came to my energy bills.

    Luckily times have changed a great deal since then and thanks to the internet and smart technology, there are plenty of ways you can begin to save money on your energy bills if you are on a pay-as-you go tariff today.

    What is a PAYG meter?

    A prepayment or pay-as-you-go (PAYG) energy meter is exactly as it sounds.  Rather than using energy and being billed afterwards for what you’ve used, you instead pay upfront for the energy.  You’ll have a PAYG meter installed and you’ll need to top-up a card, key or online in advance of using the energy.  Then once the energy runs low you’ll receive a warning and you’ll know it’s time to top up again.  It’s a great way of tracking exactly what you’re spending on energy and you’ll be aware each week of how much you are using.

    Tips on lowering your energy bill if you’re on a prepayment meter

    How to lower energy bills on a PAYG tariff

    Here are some actionable tips to help you reduce your energy bills if you’re on a PAYG meter:

    1.     Compare suppliers

    Most energy companies will revise their tariffs once per year, which means you may no longer be on the cheapest tariff for your area after the year is up.  It’s always advisable to check a comparison site each year to see which energy company is the best value for you.  Don’t think you can’t switch suppliers just because you’re on a prepayment plan, or because you are renting.  Most energy suppliers offer a prepayment tariff and if you are responsible for paying the energy bills then you have the right to choose a cheaper supplier.  You should always compare different prepayment plans as it could save you hundreds each year!

    2.     Join Boost.  Get up to £30 free credit.

    If you switch to dedicated PAYG energy supplier Boost then you’ll get a free smart meter installation as well as up to £30 credit; £15 credit for gas and £15 credit for electric.  To get your smart meter installation (& £30 free credit) you just need to click here to go to Boost and a code will be populated for you to save. 

    All you need to do is 1) sign up to Boost online 2) book a free smart meter installation 3) get installed before 30th April 2019 and they'll apply the credit!

    Boost is a part of the trusted OVO energy brand so you know you are in good hands. Boost specialises in PAYG Energy, their whole focus is on giving customers the power to control their energy, the way they want. As part of the OVO group they do everything to ensure the best service possible for PAYG customers. 

    OVO has been recognised as the uSwitch Energy Supplier of the Year.  They were also number one in the 2015 and 2016 Which? energy customer satisfaction surveys, so you can be sure you’re in good hands.

    How to lower energy bills on a PAYG tariff

    3.     Claim your heating benefits

    If you are of a certain age, claim certain benefits or meet certain criteria (such as being on a low income and having dependants) then you could qualify for some financial help towards your energy bills during the winter months.

    If you were born on or before 5 November 1953 then you could get a ‘Winter Fuel Payment’ of between £100 and £300 to help you pay your heating bills.

    There’s also the Warm Home Discount scheme which helps eligible people who are struggling with their energy bills.  If you qualify you will receive a one-off £140 payment to go towards your electricity bill.

    4.     Reduce how much energy you use

    Being on a prepayment meter means you are really aware of how much money you are spending on energy each week.  Use this knowledge to your advantage to see where you can reduce energy.  Here are a few tips to get you started:

    • Make sure you always switch off appliances when not in use instead of leaving them in standby mode. 
    • Only boil enough water for your cup of tea, instead of boiling a full kettle of water.
    • Heat only the rooms you are using and not empty rooms.
    • Only wash a full load of laundry and turn the temperature down.
    • Eat more healthy plant-based and raw foods to reduce how much you use the oven.
    • Put on cosy socks and a jumper and cover yourself in a throw before turning the heating up.
    • Turn the thermostat down slightly, even by 1 degree.
    • Use draught excluders along the bottom of doors.
    • Turn off the ligthts when you leave a room.
    • Use energy-saving lightbulbs.

     

    Hopefully this article will show you that it is possible to make some smarter and money-saving choices with a prepayment meter. 

     

    Great blog posts to read next:

    How to eat more eco-friendly and save money
    How to cut household expenses with renewable energy
    15 ways to reduce plastic consumption
    Click here for a free trial of contact lenses

     

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    How to lower energy bills on a PAYG tariff

  2. Tips to make booking a family holiday more affordable

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    If you’re anything like me then you’re getting well and truly fed up with the cold English winter weather and dreaming of escaping to more luxurious destinations.  The January blues have set in and to cheer myself up I’ve booked a couple of family holidays for later in the year.  In this blog post I will explore how to make your next family holiday more affordable.

    As you may have seen me mention in other blog posts my 2019 goal is to save an emergency fund, which did originally mean that holidays were taking a back seat.  But with seasonal affective disorder worse than ever this year and snow potentially still to come, I decided I needed something to look forward to this year so I found a couple of great holiday deals and couldn’t resist.  I’m hoping we can really smash our savings target in the first half of the year and treat ourselves to a summer holiday too, if we can find a bargain.

    Last year we totally splurged on holidays, with the excuse of not having been abroad for a holiday for six years.  We travelled to Fuerteventura for an all-inclusive holiday with no expenses spared.  It was fantastic, but £3000 for the four of us.  We also went to Center Parcs for a four night August break at a staggering £1200 and a three night Twixmas break at Bluestone for £430.

    This year we are being more cautious with our money and I hope to be able to go on three or four holidays for the same price as just our Fuerteventura break, around £3000 for all four of us.  This is much less than the £4800 families spend on average on holidays each year.  Plus we’ll be going in the school holidays, so prices are usually rocket high!  So far I have spent £400 on a 7-night stay at a 5* on the beach caravan park in Cornwall (a total bargain) and £544 for a Twixmas break in Wales (this could have cost us £380 so I’m really annoyed about that one, so read on to see how).  I’m hoping we’ll be able to save and book a last minute abroad holiday, or even venture into Europe in our Mazda Bongo!

    Here are my tips for saving money on your next family holiday:

    Tips to make booking a family holiday more affordable

    Choose an all-inclusive package

    If you want to book a holiday abroad then I’d definitely consider looking at all-inclusive deals, particularly if you plan on spending a lot of time at the hotel resort itself.  Often with unlimited drinks, snacks, ice-cream and all meals included, this can be a cost-effective way to holiday as a family.  It also makes budgeting much easier as everything is provided for you once you are there.  You don’t need to worry about finding somewhere to eat each day or paying for meals. 

    All you’ll need is some spending money if you want to go on any excursions or to buy souvenirs.  I’ve known friends to find great last minute all-inclusive deals before and not even take any spending money with them.  It’s totally possible if you just want to explore the local area.  If you’ve young children then a beach and pool will keep them entertained for hours. 

    An all-inclusive package can be a great way to book a family holiday and then not have to worry about any expenditure whilst you are away.  Everything is paid for in advance and you can relax and enjoy your holiday without money worries whilst there.  Many hotels will offer a packed lunch if you are going out for the day, so check if this is an option too so you don’t need to spend any money on food at all if you don’t need to. We chose an all-inclusive family holiday in Spring 2018 and barely needed any spending money at all. 

    I’m hoping we’ll be able to find a great last minute all-inclusive deal in the summer that is much cheaper than what we spent last year.

     

    Where can I find the best all-inclusive packages?

    The internet can be overwhelming when searching for a holiday, so it's great to have an online tool that does all the hard work for you.  If you're anything like me then you like to rely on Trip Advisor reviews to help you decide on the best hotel to choose. To find the top 10 all-inclusive hotels for a particular destination, based on Trip Advisor reviews and number of bookings, then check out this interactive all-inclusive hotel finder at Loveholidays.  Simply add your destination, choose the type of holiday you are looking for (i.e. family) and let it do the hard work for you.  You can then see the top 10 hotels as well as a map to show you exactly where they are located.

    Book time off work as far in advance as possible

    I’m self-employed and work online so it’s really easy for me to go away at any point so long as I have internet connection.  My husband, however, is employed and needs to approve his holiday dates.  This recently cost us £164 when booking our Bluestone holiday.  I looked whilst we were there over Christmas 2018 and the same holiday for 2019 was the same price - £430.  Plus we could have saved £50 if we booked whilst there, so it would have only been £380.  Unfortunately we needed Ben to book time off work, so we waited until we returned.  I went to book the holiday only three weeks after returning and the price had shot up to £569!  Crikey!  We managed to still get a £25 saving, but at £544 we had to pay £164 more than if we had booked three weeks earlier.  Very frustrating!

    Return with a loyalty discount

    If you go somewhere and you love it, then check for a loyalty discount.  Sometimes holiday companies will give you a special returning customer discount if you rebook a holiday with the same company within so many days or weeks.  We know we can get a great discount at Bluestone if we rebook whilst we are there, so we’ll know to make use of this next time.

    Book early

    Booking early has lots of great benefits for making a holiday affordable.  In our experience with booking a Twixmas break for this year the price shot up £139 in only three weeks!  If you see a price and you’re happy with it then I wouldn’t wait too long as often the prices will go up as more rooms get booked.

    Spread the cost by booking early

    Another advantage of booking early is being able to pay only a small deposit at the time of booking and then spreading the cost over the remaining months until your holiday.  If you can’t afford to pay upfront for a holiday, then this is a brilliant way to spread the cost and make it more affordable.  Some hotels or resorts will take the deposit and then the final balance on a date such as six weeks before your arrival date.  Just make sure you add this date to your calendar and save up the remaining due balance yourself. 

    Ideally I’d love to save in advance and have enough money to pay upfront for all our family holidays, but it’s not always possible.  Booking as far in advance as possible has allowed us to spread the cost and afford to go on some great holidays.   We booked our 2018 Fuerteventura holiday 15 months in advance which allowed us to spread the cost into affordable monthly payments.

    Check for cashback

    Don’t forget to book using a cashback website when possible to save even more!  We’ve managed to get £60 cashback for a holiday booking online before as well as cashback on car rental, holiday insurance, flights and hotels.

    Check the facilities and location

    We made the mistake one year of choosing a cheaper location that was far away from any beaches or activities to save money.  Only, it didn’t save us money in the end.  The resort had no facilities for the children, so we had to travel every day to entertain ourselves.  We ended up spending a fortune and a lot of time travelling in the car each day to keep ourselves amused.  It would have been more cost-effective to spend a bit more money on a better resort location with more facilities, especially for the children.  Now I will always make sure we are within walking distance to a beach and there’s a park/pool for the children.  Just having these things within walking distance means we don’t have to spend money every day on travelling or entry fees to keep the children entertained.

    Go during term time

    If your children are not school age, or you’re brave enough, then travel during term time.  I feel too anxious to take my children out during term time as I know it’s against the school rules, but I know plenty of people who do this and they save hundreds, even thousands on their holiday costs.  It really is the best way to make a massive saving.

    Don’t go in the summer holidays

    The summer holidays are the most expensive time to book a holiday.  Instead choose a holiday in spring or autumn to get a much better rate.  There are still plenty of places to get some sunshine if that’s what you desire, such as in the Canary Islands.  Make the most of the sunshine in the UK in the summer and then jet off when it’s a little cooler here for a cheaper holiday abroad – win-win!

     

    Hopefully these tips based on my personal experience will help you to save some money on your next family holiday.

     

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    Collaborative post

     Tips to make booking a family holiday more affordable

  3. Is being vegan expensive?

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    The answer?  It can be as expensive or as affordable as you want it to be.  Pretty much like anything else in life.  You can choose the cheap car or you can choose a more luxurious car.  The same goes for food, drink, holidays, clothes, homewares, you name it.  Choosing to lead a healthy lifestyle is no different.  It can cost a pretty penny or you can choose to do it on a budget.

    One question I’m asked a lot as I am now 100% plant based (or vegan as it’s more widely and easily understood), is whether it is expensive.   My answer is yes and no.  No it’s not expensive if you stick to eating a diet stuffed full of fresh fruits and vegetables, but mostly veggies, that are in season.  But yes it is expensive if you start buying processed vegan food and junk food such as vegan cheeses and vegan mayonnaises, raw chocolate bars, meat alternatives and so on.

    If you keep it simple then being vegan can be done on a budget.  Keep it simple by keeping it as plant based as possible with no processed foods and then costs will stay down.  In fact, that’s probably a load cheaper than eating meat or cheese as they can be really expensive.  When I was vegetarian I loved cheese and it had to be the proper mature stuff.  It cost a small fortune!  Even milk is quite costly and yes, plant based milks are expensive, but you can easily make your own oat milk very cheaply.

    It’s funny really, as I was veggie for several years before cutting out all animal products completely and no one ever questions if vegetarianism is more expensive than eating a meat based diet, but as soon as you mention following a vegan diet then a lot of people will ask if it’s expensive to eat that way.  In fact, many people think eating anything healthy is an expensive and I often hear people comment how ‘healthy’ food should be cheaper.  I’m not sure where they are shopping as the last time I went to the supermarket I managed to buy a banana for 12p, yet a chocolate bar was closer to £1.  Many commonplace fruits and vegetables are very cheap indeed.

    Tips to save money and eat healthy

    Why being healthy doesn’t have to be expensive

    Like anything, being healthy or being vegan can be expensive, or it can be cheap and affordable - the same as most things in life.  It depends where you choose to shop and what level of products you choose to buy – savers, shop’s own brand, branded, luxurious, independent or organic. 

    Here are some of the ways eating healthily or following a plant-based diet can be more affordable:

    Keep it simple and eat a lot of fruit and vegetables

    Check out your supermarkets fruit and veg aisles and you’ll see a lot of prices well under £1 for large bags of goodness.  I often see comments on articles about healthy eating such as the introduction of the sugar tax, where people say something along the lines of ‘if you want us to quit sugar and eat healthier then make healthy food cheap’.  I really believe it already is cheap and I’m not sure where they are shopping!

    Over Christmas my local Tesco had big bags of vegetables on offer for 29p each!  2.5kg of potatoes for 29p!  Even today they sell a 1kg bag of carrots for 59p!  I can see around 9 large carrots in the bag and so that’s a lot of great healthy carrot stick snacks for adults of kids, plus plenty left over as a side of steamed veg for a couple of meals or more.  Eating affordable healthy snacks by creating your own from fruit and vegetables is totally possible.

    If you go organic, choose a subscription box

    Yes, organic food is at a premium and I totally think that is wrong.  We buy organic in our household as I believe it’s an investment in our health, the planet and wildlife. It is more expensive and I think this is wrong.

    Organic food needs to become the norm and accessible to everyone. 

    One way to get better value on organic fruit and veg and to ensure you get a good variety is to order a fruit and vegetable box each week.  The boxes should provide you with local fresh produce that works out cheaper in a box than buying the items individually, plus companies such as Abel and Cole regularly have special offers and new customer offers.

    Base your meals around vegetables

    If you base your cooking and main meals around the vegetables and some wholegrains then you can make meals more affordable as you’ll not be adding costly meat or cheese.  Of course there are meat alternatives, but we rarely use these and just stick to vegetables, wholegrains, herbs, spices, beans and lentils when cooking. This makes things a lot more affordable and probably even cheaper than a meat diet.

    If you start buying processed ‘healthy’ foods such as pre-packaged meals, dried fruit bars, meat alternatives and so on then the cost of eating healthy can start to add up.

    Instead, keep it simple and stuff your diet full of as many fresh fruits and vegetables as possible to keep costs down.  Plus, if you fill yourself up on as much fruit, salad and veg as possible, you’ll leave less room for the bad food and stop reaching for the expensive snacks as you’re already full on the good stuff.

    Use supermarket coupon apps to save on healthy food

    I’ve just recently got into the supermarket coupon apps, also known as cashback apps, that give money back on certain items in the supermarkets.  They have loads of offers every day, on around ten or so items per major supermarket, where you can save money or even get 100% of the cost of the item back.

    There are regularly fresh fruit and vegetable savings to be made with these apps.  They even regularly have some vegan food included so you can try some of the branded prepared food with a discount.  The plant based milks have been on them too.

    I’ve signed up to GreenJinn, CheckoutSmart and Shopmium for virtual coupons via their smart phone apps.  You buy the product, upload the receipt and then get the cash back after.

    Bonus tip

    Another tip is to always remember to check for cashback if you do your grocery shopping online.  Sign up and always check for cashback at Top Cashback and Quidco for cashback.  Or try your luck at Boom25 for a 1 in 25 chance of winning your entire spend back.

     

    Leading a healthy (and plant-based) lifestyle can be as expensive or as affordable as you need it to be!

     

    Related blog posts
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    Why you need to reduce your refined sugar intake 
    5 tips to get a better night’s sleep naturally 
    Your ultimate inspirational guide to being truly healthy

    7 ways to live a more sustainable lifestyle
    3 Important Reasons to Choose Organic (other than your personal health)
    13 eco-friendly ways to start saving money in the kitchen
    Get 100% renewable energy with Bulb and save lots of money (over £250)
    Plastic is not fantastic – the dirty secret of where our recycling really goes

    Is being vegan expensive_

     

  4. 5 tried and tested ways to make money as a UK stay at home mum

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    [This article was updated 22nd December 2018 to add more resources and links. It was originally posted 23rd May 2018]

     

    My making money as a stay-at-home mum background story

    As soon as I had my first daughter I knew I didn’t really want to return to my manager role after maternity.  I’d been with the company for nine years and had assumed I’d be there forever.  Having my first child totally changed my opinion though.  After one year’s maternity I didn’t want to return to full time work in a demanding role that often required last minute overtime.  I wouldn’t be able to commit to the role as I had pre-children.  I also wasn’t ready to put my daughter in full time childcare from 8am to 6pm, only seeing her for one hour or so per evening before it was her bedtime.  The thought really upset me.  It was time to find a new job or way of working from home where I could be there for my daughter in the day times and see her do new things and reach milestones for myself.  In this article I will share five tried and tested ways to make money as a stay at home mum in the UK.  Who knows, it could even become a full time occupation for you!

    Originally I trained to be a childminder which seemed the perfect job whilst my daughter was little.  I completed the training, but our current home didn’t have enough space.  We were in the process of selling our existing home, but it took a lot longer than anticipated – around eight months!  We ended up buying a home that needed totally redoing so this took all our time and four years on we’re still not finished!  We then fell pregnant with our second child so I decided not to pursue the childminding.  We just had too much to do in our new home and a new baby on the way.  I also wasn’t as passionate about it anymore as I’d already started my Lylia Rose business.  I do always wonder what would have happened if we had managed to sell quicker and moved into a house that needed no or little work.  Perhaps I’d be a full time childminder today!

    I started making handmade cards and selling them on Etsy when my daughter was born and I was stuck at home needing a hobby.  That was the beginning of Lylia Rose.  Since then it changed to me selling items on Facebook, then making jewellery, then buying jewellery to sell, adding scarves to the collection and changing to a scarf only shop, setting up a blog for the business, changing the blog to a lifestyle blog and to where we are today - a UK lifestyle blog all about how to make money online, self employment, healthy living and family lifestyle!  Phew!  It's been a journey!  To read more about all this check out my blog posts how I became a professional lifestyle blogger accidentally and where the name Lylia Rose came from.

    After my first maternity leave I did get a part time evening job.  I’ve worked three part time jobs in total, up until last May when I made the decision to go full time with my blogging and home earnings.  I’d earned more than my part time wage for six months straight by this point, so I knew it was the right decision.  Luckily I have managed to make a consistent full time wage being self-employed from home for an entire year now and will share the ways below.

    Here are 5 tried and tested ways to make money from home as a UK stay-at-home mum:

    5 tried and tested ways to make money as a UK stay at home mum

    Image

    Blogging

    If you love to write then blogging is the perfect stay at home career.  It can fit in around parent duties and is also location independent.  You just need a laptop and internet connection.  Don’t expect to start a blog and earn money instantly though.  I started mine in spring 2013 and didn’t start to make any money from it until spring 2016.  To be fair, it wasn’t my original intention to make money from it, but if I’d realised the potential sooner I am sure I could have made money after a year or two instead.  It takes time to build up content, stats, readership and an authoritative website.  Don’t let that put you off though.  If you are serious about blogging and perhaps one day making an income from it, then you simply need to get started.

    More helpful articles if you want to monetise your blog:

    Make money from your blog with Awin affiliate marketing
    Make money from your blog without Google ads 
    4 ways to find paid blog opportunities
    How I save hours every week scheduling tweets with Social Oomph
    How to improve your domain authority (DA)

    Make money blogging with Link Monster
    Make money blogging with Get Blogged (even as a new blogger)
    Make money blogging with Considerable Influence
    Make money blogging with Press Loft
    Make money blogging with Bloggers Required
    Make money blogging with Bloggerwork

    6 secrets to make more money from your blog
    6 handy tax tips for bloggers
    Online resources and blog posts to make money blogging
    Blogging tips

    Matched betting

    Matched betting is quite a controversial way to make money from home, but personally I love it.  Many people who aren’t matched bettors simply assume it’s gambling, but those of us who do it know it’s not gambling and the aim is to make a profit!  I wouldn’t do it at all if I was gambling with my money.  There is obviously risk involved as you can make a mistake, but if you follow the instructions you will make a profit.  I’ve made a couple of silly mistakes and lost £10 here and there, perhaps only three or so times, but I’ve learned from those mistakes.  In the one year and three months I’ve been a matched bettor I’ve made almost £4300 in profit.  I now only spend 30 minutes to 1.5 hours per week matched betting, so it’s very part time for me.  I make £100-£300 per month with a £100 target.  This is tax free cash too as the tax office do class it as gambling winnings!

    The company I use who have enabled me to learn the process and make so much money is Profit Accumulator who I still use and highly recommend.  It’s possible to make more and it’s possible to make less.  It depends how much time you can devote and which methods you continue to use after the sign up offers.

    Here are some great posts if you’re thinking of starting:
    Not sure about matched betting?  Make £40ish now to see if it’s for you!
    I made over £3000 matched betting in 2017
    £753.62 Matched Betting Profit Month One (and silly mistakes)
    Is matched betting a gateway to gambling and is it dirty money?

    matched betting box

    Website testing

    I’m so pleased I discovered website testing as it’s a quick and easy way to top up my other home earnings.  Tests can take as little as 5 minutes to complete and the longest has taken me about 20 minutes.  Each test is for a different website or app and they simply want your opinion on a new feature or for you to show how you'd find your way around the site.  They're really straightforward and easy to complete.  Just make sure you read the instructions carefully as the tests can get rejected.  I’ve only had one test rejected as I accidentally used my iPhone instead of an Android.  Oops!

    Read more about how you can easily make money from home by testing websites or get started right away by clicking here: https://app.whatusersdo.com/apply?referral=196393

    Selling online

    Selling items online is a great side hustle or could even be a full time job.  You can sell your old unwanted belongings on eBay or Facebook Marketplace to declutter and make cash in the process.  You can also become an ecommerce retailer by buying stock and selling it on your own website or eBay or Amazon.  If you’re crafty then try Etsy to sell your unique wares.  If you’ve a keen eye for a bargain in stores then reselling on eBay for a profit could be for you.  I’ve tried all of these methods and today I still sell all our outgrown and unwanted items on Ebay and Facebook as well as selling some items on this very website in my own online shop.

    Related blog posts:
    11 tips for eBay selling
    7 Easy Ways to Make Money from Home as a Mum
    Things I've Learnt from Running My Own Shop Business (the things no one tells you)

    Mystery tasks

    There are lots of ‘mystery shopping’ type apps out there.  Some aren’t really shopping at all, but simply short surveys or photos you can take at home.  Many are secret short audits you carry out in store.  My favourite apps are Streetbees, Roamler, BeMyEye and Task360.  You could make a few pounds each time you visit the supermarket to do your shopping if there’s a task whilst you’re there.

    Related:
    Find a Roamler invite code here
    Get paid doing simple tasks from your phone with Streetbees
    9 iPhone apps to make money

    There are so many ways to make money from home nowadays.  It really does give us mums the flexibility to make a part time or even a full time wage around parenting duties.  There’s no need to return to a full time job and have to use full time childcare if that’s not right for you.  Simply start exploring some at home options and get the ball rolling to a happier career today!

     

    5 tried and tested ways to make money as a UK stay at home mum

  5. How to make Christmas dinner on a budget

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    Christmas can be a really expensive time of the year for families with travel costs and Christmas food shopping to take into account.  And that’s completely leaving out the stress of preparing for presents for the kids and gift exchanges! This can potentially wreak havoc on your wallet if you don’t plan accordingly, which is why this article exists – with lots of tips to help you make a delectable Christmas dinner and save money in the process.

    The key points involve reducing the cost down enough to make a fulfilling meal for everyone. In this current digital age, you can use the services of a grocery app to find the best values for the myriad of ingredients you might need. Then, gather up a handful of loved ones or friends who will be at the Christmas dinner party, and go value shopping for all the necessary ingredients.

    Here are some tips on how to make Christmas dinner on a budget:

    Vegan roast dinner 2017 - Lylia Rose - Victoria Sully

    My vegan Christmas roast dinner 2017 - a sprinkle of dried mint and lashings of gravy were added after the photo.  Yum!

    Decide on a budget

    Decide first of all either what your total budget is or how much you want to spend per head.  With Christmas Day lunches at pubs costing around £60 per head, your at-home meal should be an awful lot cheaper than this!  Once you have worked out your maximum expenditure, and then make sure you stick to it and are careful with your spending.  It can be tempting to buy a lot of treats at Christmas, but if you are on a budget and money is stretched, then you’ll have to hold back.

    Make a shopping list

    Instead of aimlessly wandering around the supermarket aisles choosing as you go, have a meal plan and write a shopping list for exactly what you need.  This should help stop you overspending as you know exactly what you need to buy and you just need to have the willpower to stick to your list!

    Choose organic

    Whilst you may think that choosing organic is expensive at first, some of the online veg box deliveries offer really good value and you can be sure you are getting high quality ingredients. Plus they deliver to your door which will save the time and money spent travelling to the supermarket. 

    Go to a farmer’s market

    A great way to support local farmers and also to save on produce is to pick up everything you need at a farmer’s market.  They often have great deals on fresh produce and can be really competitive on price with supermarkets.

    Choose value

    If the organic boxes and farmer’s markets are out of your budget, then go with the value brands.  You’ll be surprised at how amazingly cheap supermarket own brand vegetables and value ranges are, even at Christmas.  Often the supermarkets will have lots of offers on the fruits and veg you need to make Christmas lunch as they want to win your custom for your Christmas food shop.

    Get everyone to chip in

    Not with money, but with the food.  If you’re making the main meal, then why not ask some family members to bring desserts, others to bring drinks and another to bring the starters or canapes?  Make it a family affair and don’t feel pressured to have to provide for everyone if you can’t afford to.  Your loved ones will understand and be more than happy to chip in and bring a part of the meal each.

    Make everything from scratch

    While it might be tempting to buy ready-made canapes, desserts and frozen yorkies or potatoes, it’s often much better value (and tastier) to make your own homemade versions.

    Control the portion sizes

    Be sensible with the portion sizes.  Ensure that everyone has enough, but don’t overfill plates and end up with a lot of food waste which is wasted money also.  Cook enough for each person to have a good sized portion and a perhaps a tiny bit extra for those who will want seconds.  Leave the extra off the plates and in the kitchen so if it’s not needed it can be saved and eaten as leftovers instead of wasted.

    Keep it simple

    Have the star of the show (usually meat, but in my household a nut roast), potatoes, stuffing, yorkies and three or four veg.  Some condiments such as dried mint and cranberry sauce and of course gravy.  You can go all out and start creating cauliflower cheese and so on, but you can also keep it much simpler and choose a couple of tasty steamed veg that will do the trick and keep costs down.

    Check apps for money off coupons and cashback

    Make sure you make the most of every supermarket shopping trip moneywise by following these tips and also remember to check the Shopmium app for coupons and cashback in all the popular supermarkets.

    Use what you have

    Before writing a shopping list and buying anything, check your cupboards to see what you already have.  You might have some jars of condiments in there, packets of stuffing and a tub of gravy granules.  Don’t go out and buy it all again if you already have it at home.

    There we go.  Whatever your budget this Christmas for your dinner, make sure you don’t break the bank and follow these tips to be a little savvier with your festive food shopping.

     

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