Saving money online

Today I want to share my tips for saving (and making!) money online. There are so many ways to save money that it can be hard to keep track of all of them, so I’ve gathered all of the sites and techniques I use here for reference.

Deal sites
Probably the most well known deal site in the Hot UK Deals. Members of the site compete to post deals, which other members can then vote on (make ‘hot’), which causes them to rise to the top of the page. There are several different sections of the site, such as fashion, home & garden, and groceries. This is a very popular site with a large and active community. Get involved!

Cashback websites
There are two main cashback sites you can use to get money back when making purchases online, TopCashback and QuidCo. Both of them work in the same way. When you make a purchase at an online retailer they will give you a percentage of the total price of your order back to you. The percentage is usually under 10%, and more commonly around 2-4%. It takes four to eight weeks for your cashback to process.

If you’re purchasing a £800 fridge or a £400 washing machine even 2% is worth having!

Supermarket vouchers
any of the large supermarkets regularly offer vouchers which you can use to get products for free when shopping online. I recommend Sainsbury’s.

Freebie websites
Lots of companies in the UK give away freebies and free samples, usually in return for your name and address. You need to be selective with what deals you sign up to because there are some shady companies out there. Two sites that I recommend and use are Free Stuff Now and Latest Free Stuff. These sites bring all the available freebies together into one place, so you don’t need to hunt around for them.

Price comparison
It’s always worth comparing prices before you make a purchase. You might think it’s not worth it for smaller purchases, but it is – over a year the savings can add up. I recommend PriceRunner and Google Shopping (accessed via a normal Google search, then clicking ‘Shopping’). To get the most benefit, and the biggest savings, use a price comparison site in conjunction with a cashback website!

Making money online
It’s not just about saving money, you can also make money online in return for watching adverts, completing surveys, giving your opinion, and even playing games. A site that I have used in the past for this is 22 cogs. You can’t make a huge amount of money this way, but you can complete the offers while doing something else (like watching the TV), so it doesn’t really feel difficult or like work.

As always, please comment if you disagree or have anything to add!

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The Christmas Tag

A friend of mine mentioned that some bloggers had been partaking in a fun survey all about Christmas, so I decided to get ‘unofficially’ involved! Here are my answers:

What’s your favourite Christmas movie?
The Nightmare Before Christmas! I love the stop motion style, and it’s a great story both that we can enjoy as a family (adults and kids alike!). There are other animated films that I love to watch at Christmas, including The Snowman, and whatever Wallace and Gromit films happen to be on! The Wrong Trousers is my kids favourite.

Have you ever had a white Christmas?
Yes! I think the last time in Cambridgeshire was four or five years ago, and it was lovely. Visiting my grandparents in Korea it snows every time, which the kids obviously love!

Where do you usually spend your holiday?
Tucked up at home, or on the other side of the world in Korea!

What is your favourite Christmas song?
Last Christmas by Wham! I think I’ll leave it at that!

Do you open any presents on Christmas Eve?
No, all present opening happens on Christmas morning. We tried rationing them out throughtout the day, but it doesn’t work with kids, at least not in our household.

Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer?
Not without googling them!

Which holiday traditions are you looking forward to this year?
Putting up the tree (already done!).

Is your Christmas tree real or fake?
Real! We always get a real tree, it’s one of the things that makes Christmas really feel like Christmas – the smell, the colour, even the dropping needles. A fake tree can’t replicate that, and while sometimes I might wish a real tree was a bit easier to deal with, we’d never trade it for a plastic one.

What is your all time favourite holiday treat/food/sweet?
Yule log. Chocolate, creme, ganache, raspberries, cranberries… yum!

Be honest, do you like giving or receiving gifts better?
Honestly, giving! But I also always buy a present for myself!

What is the best Christmas present you ever received?
It would be very hard indeed to pick a favourite. The one that I best remember from my childhood was a brand new Raleigh bike, so I’ll have to choose that.

What would be your dream place to visit for the holiday season?
I probably won’t win any prizes for originality by answering Lapland! But it would be so lovely to visit Lapland at Christmas with the children. I know of one family that did this a few years back and it sounded absolutely magical.

Are you a pro present wrapper or do you fail miserably?
I’ve got pretty good over the years! I try to do all the presents I’m giving in one go, but that never really works unless I leave it to Christmas Eve, which you can’t do if you’ve got kids! Wrapping is only half of the challenge – then there’s applying ribbon and bows, shiny things, and of course writing a message on each one!

Most memorable Christmas moment?
Not the most pleasant memory, but my brother broke his foot after slipping on ice in 2010 on Christmas Eve, meaning we spent a good few hours sitting in A&E after driving him there! That memory definitely stands out the most! Luckily we were back in time for Christmas!

What made you realise the truth about Santa?
I think it was around my seventh birthday, when my demands for presents got more outrageous and my parents could no longer pretend that Father Christmas’ elves created everything!

What makes the holidays special for you?
Time with the family. Time with the kids. Snow. Food. The tree. The break from the regular routine.

Have a lovely Christmas everyone!

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Christmas dinner on the cheap

For lots of families Christmas dinner (or Christmas lunch) is the highlight of the day, and getting it right is essential. But it rarely comes cheap, as the desire to purchase ever more food and extravagant delicacies seems to increase every year.

So here are my tips to saving money on Christmas dinner while not sacrificing on quality!

#1 Shop around

Today Asda cut the price of many staple Christmas vegetables by over 50%. You can find the following on the shelves for just 20p!:

  • Brussel sprouts – 500g
  • Carrots – 1kg
  • Broccoli – 360g
  • Parsnips – 500g

Not to be outdone, Lidl have responded by knocking a penny off of the above prices.

There’s no point paying over the odds for produce. Shopping around and switching supermarkets can save you pounds, and it all adds up.

#2 Don’t bother with the things nobody likes

Brussel Sprouts are the traditional Christmas vegetable that everyone gets but no-one seems to enjoy actually eating! The same can be said nowadays of the traditional Christmas Pudding – your mum (or your mum’s mum!) may have enjoyed it, but it doesn’t go down a treat in my home. Cut out the things your family doesn’t like and save yourself some cash in the process.

#3 Switch brand where appropriate

Don’t pay over the odds for branded items like stuffing when the supermarket own-brand version is more than good enough. This won’t make a difference if you only switch one or two products, but it all adds up. And no, I’m not suggesting that you go Tesco Value for your turkey!

#4 Use your leftovers

Don’t leave your leftovers to languish in the fridge for days. We almost always make turkey sandwiches on Boxing Day with our leftovers. Here’s how we prepare them:

  1. Slice the turkey thinly – the thinner the better. Allow about 150g for an adult, half for children.
  2. Generously salt the meat.
  3. Secret ingredient – bacon! Streaky or not, smoked or not, doesn’t matter – it just needs to be there.
  4. Mayonnaise. Be generous!
  5. A few lettuce leaves, or any other salad leaves.
  6. Thickly sliced bread. If all you’ve got left has gone a bit hard, put it in the toaster for a little while. Butter well.

And, why not, it’s Christmas so treat yourself with a glass of Champagne or other fizz. Which leads me on nicely to the next tip…

#5 Drinks

Everyone drinks more than they probably should at Christmas time, but that doesn’t mean you should be paying over the odds for your booze. All of the supermarkets fight each other on price at this time of year, and you’ll find that what is cheap in one supermarket is expensive in another. I recommend keeping an eye on the Hot UK Deals alcohol section for the latest and best deals.

Lots of supermarkets offer deals when purchasing multiple bottles of wine at the same time, and you can make real savings when you purchase six bottles, twelve bottles at the same time. So if you’re intending on purchasing a lot of wine, buy it all from the same place and make a saving.

#6 Buy at the last minute

This won’t be for everybody, but if you’re not too fussy about precisely what you want to eat on Christmas day you can save a decent amount of money by purchasing key items on Christmas Eve. The supermarkets are going to be shut for a day, sometimes more, and are very keen to offload remaining perishable items (like meat!) for very low prices. Last year we were able to get 750g of wing rib of beef for £8 – easily three times cheaper than we would have paid not one day before!

Other items to look out for here are things that no-one wants after Christmas Day – mince pies, Christmas Crackers, Christmas pudding, and so on.

Have you got your own tips? Let me know in the comments section below! And have a fantastic Christmas!

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Christmas money saving ideas

With Christmas coming up and the cold closing in we could all do with tightening our belts and saving some extra money. The cost of Christmas seems to grow every year, what with it seeming to start earlier and earlier and with the new children, nephews, neices and indeed grandchildren that come along as time goes by!

I’ve brought together five of my favourite tips in this article for how to save a bit of money this Christmas.

 

#1 Home-made gifts

Home-made gifts are a win-win for those on a budget. Not only can you create something the recipient will love, but you can do it really cheaply, and involve your children too. Here are some ideas that we’ve done in the past:

  • Hand-made Christmas cards. Get the kids involved with the glitter and glue.
  • Home baked mince pies.
  • Get your knit on. Knitting is back in fashion and a hand-made scarf or hat will be much loved.
  • Pressed flowers. Pick flowers, press between the pages of a heavy book for at least a few days (put paper between the book and the flowers!), then mount in a frame.

#2 Family Secret Santa

If you’re having a large family get together it can be a bit of a minefield working out what presents to get for who, and there’s always the potential to forget about a distant relative who you didn’t know was going to turn up! Do a Secret Santa instead – each person buys (or makes!) a present for just one other person chosen at random. Use an online tool like Secret Santa Elf to make the list. Because you’re only buying a present for one other person you can make sure it’s something good.

#3 Make a list and stick to it

Don’t plan the perfect Christmas shopping list only to throw it out the window at the first sign of a flashy ‘must-have’ item you see when out in town. Stick to your list and your budget!

Making a list is really important, and let’s you work out where you should be spending more and where you can spending a lot less. If you do this early enough you can also find some great bargains. And, if you really want to plan ahead and have the space, do some of your Christmas shopping for next year in January. Not only will you get some amazing prices, but you’ll remove a tonne of stress from next years preparation!

 

There you go, hopefully this should help you save a bit of cash in the weeks ahead. Let me know in the comments section below  if you agree, or if you’ve got any suggestions of your own!

In the next post I’ll be talking about ways to save money on Christmas dinner, don’t miss it!

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