Tag: Budgeting

8 tips for adventures with kids

8 Tips For Mini Adventures With Kids

Activities For Children, Adventures April 6, 2018

I was feeling inspired to write this post after a waterlogged week away with my kids. The weather was conscientiously working to spoil our holiday, so we had to be inventive with what we did. Here are a few ideas for mini adventures with kids.

1. Find little surprises in small places

My kids and I drove to what used to be a little fishing village. It was remote and had quaint little cottages overlooking the harbour. There was nothing to do there; even it’s one craft shop was closed. However, we went for a walk and found a shed that had baby lambs and sheep inside it. They were just sitting peacefully, inches from us and it ended up being a moment that stayed with my daughter. Don’t rule somewhere out just because no one talks about it or it seems like nothing significant is there 🙂

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2. Bring supplies and go out in the rain anyway

If there is torrential rain, dress for it and go for a walk in puddles. We went to a National Trust property in heavy rain and ended up having a picnic under a tree there. A room had been opened for indoor colouring for kids and we went for tea and scones and played games in a notebook I brought. It always helps to have paper and crayons with you to keep your kids entertained during an unplanned moment.

3. Collect simple items and draw them/make collages

My kids love going beach combing and  wearing wellies while they jump in rock pools. They have a little tin they keep shells in. We went for a windy walk and then retreated indoors, lit the fire and drew pictures of shells. You could do the same with leaves, flowers, pine cones. rocks, etc. You can also do rubbings, where you scribble on a page laid over textured items and teach your kids about different patterns and textures while you’re doing it.

4. Stop somewhere you weren’t planning to visit

We went to Scrabo Tower just as we were passing it one day. Some children happened to have gathered there to roll eggs down the hill. The girls enjoyed watching them and climbing up the steep hill. The views were spectacular as it was such a clear day. We found a picnic table in what felt like a quiet meadow and I had brought coffee and snacks that kept the girls entertained while they made a play house under the picnic table.

5. Eat in the garden, even if it’s cold

You can still eat outside even in unfortunate weather. It feels like a preamble to a barbecue and makes you appreciate returning to the warmth of indoors afterwards. I made hotdogs indoors and had a pretend barbecue outside the cottage we were staying in. The girls loved it and followed it with dancing outside and hide and seek.

6. Stop at charity shops in unexpected places

Sometimes the remotest of places contain the best second-hand stuff. I found two cups from the 70’s for 50p 🙂 My daughter got some blocks that she has played with constantly since. Sometimes letting kids choose an item themselves makes it more valuable to them (even if it’s only 20p.)

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7. Drive the long way

Sometimes choosing the longer route means more scenic drives and more interesting things to point out to your kids. My kids loved watching to see if the sea was rough or still, which birds they could identify and if there were any boats along the coast. Involving them in sporting things outside definitely makes them less tetchy when you’re driving.

8. Get your kids binoculars or a disposable camera

My granny did this for us as kids and we loved it. My kids picked up some binoculars for bird watching on our trip but have also been using them to look at the sea and the sky (and to spy on people in the street!)  They love spotting things in the distance and sharing them with you.

Adventures don’t have to be about travelling great distances or spending excessively. Kids always remember the simplest, cheapest thing that you just fell upon along the way.

 

 

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Ways to live a more frugal life that doesn’t suck

20 Tips for a More Frugal Life that doesn’t Suck.

How To Save Money UK, Living a Frugal Life February 23, 2018

Here are some simple tips to help you lead a more frugal life with fewer money worries and unnecessary expenses (without depriving yourself of everything enjoyable.)

1. Buy house plants instead of freshly cut flowers that will wilt after a few days. Although, if you’re like me it’ll be a miracle if the plants outlive the flowers.

2. Buy your kids’ toys second hand. My kids’ favourite toy is a dolls house I bought in a charity shop for £40 including dolls and furniture.

3. If you want to go out for lunch, go for picnic using items you already have in your house instead. Bring fresh coffee or hot chocolate in a flask.

4. Stop drinking fizzy drinks all the time. I always see people carrying around bottles of fizzy drinks, everywhere they go. Try and save them for treats and bring a reusable water bottle instead. Add cucumber, lemon or blueberries to ice cold water to make it more interesting.

5. Stop making going to shopping centres an outing. Go to a museum, a nature reserve, the library, a new park, or a friend’s house instead. You’ll feel like you have spent your time in a much more valuable way.

6. Buy own-brand cereals; most of them taste the same and are so much cheaper.

7. Replace half of the TV you watch with reading, going for a walk or making something. It will make you feel more satisfied and energised.

8. Only buy books you can’t order at the library/read as ebooks for free.

9. Compare cinema ticket prices before booking a ticket. Save it for films you are dying to see so it feels like a treat. Get a discount card if they have one, to get cheaper tickets, popcorn or drinks.

10. Stop feeling pressured to keep up with others. Who cares if their kid has more stuff than yours? They probably just feel overwhelmed by it all and are already learning to be materialistic.

11. Don’t make over-complicated meals with a huge variety of ingredients that go to waste because they are only used in one meal. Simplify your life in whatever ways you can.

12. Learn basic sewing skills so you can fix clothes rather than throwing them out/ make friends with someone who sews 🙂

13. Check in newspapers for free local events. You might find a one-off event you would have missed otherwise.

14. Exchange magazines with friends so you each only have to buy one but still get to read a variety.

15. Get rid of any TV channels you are paying for but never use. Save the extra money towards something you really want instead.

16. Start buying value range long grain rice. It is less than 50p and is really versatile. You can easily make sticky rice and I have also used it in risottos and rice pudding.

17. If you are going to eat out, have one course and have dessert or coffees at home or at a friend’s house after.

18. Instead of having wardrobes that are specific to each season, make a wardrobe that can be used year-round, by adding layers in Winter and taking them away in Summer. It saves you having to find storage space too.

19. Stop drinking juice like it is coming out of a tap; the goodness of the fruit is cancelled out by the sugar content anyway. Buy different kinds of tea instead: it will last longer and give you more variety.

20. Don’t deprive yourself of everything you want just to save money; you will only end up splurging at intervals instead. Find cheaper alternatives that still make you feel like you are treating yourself, without the financial fallout 🙂

Hope these tips give you some ideas to help you to have a more frugal way of life with less stress 🙂

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Things To Do When You’re Bored And Broke

Budget Things To Do When You’re Bored And Broke

frugal living February 21, 2018

I don’t really get bored, probably because I always have an unaccomplished list of things to do composed in my mind. I am more familiar with being broke, thanks to my natural inclination to buy pretty things the moment they enter my line of vision. So, here are a few ideas of free/relatively cheap activities to do after a particularly bad case of impulse buying:

  • I probably shouldn’t be suggesting more shopping, but go to the pound shop and buy as many interesting things as you can for three pounds. Eg, items for your own spa night, books, sweet treats and hot drinks, craft materials, gardening equipment, movies.
  • Gather up items you no longer use and put them up for sale on Gumtree/Ebay/give them to charity.
  • While you’re on Gumtree, look for free items that people are giving away; you might find a treasure.
  • Make your own bookmarks with your favourite quotes/images on them.
  • Go to a language exchange/a reading group/a craft group in the library.
  • Host a dinner party for friends where you agree on a meal to make and each person brings one component of it. Each bring a board game and a type of fruit juice and make non-alcoholic cocktails.
  • Start a sketchbook and draw pictures that summarise the moments of your day.
  • Make a wish list and start a savings jar to save towards it. Once you buy one item, add one more to the end of the list.
  • Create a cosy corner in your home of interesting objects/candles/lights to make it more homely.
  • Take pictures of the most beautiful and the most ordinary things in your life.

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  • Read reviews on https://www.goodreads.com/ and make a reading list for this year.
  • Go to http://www.supercook.com/ and type in ingredients you already have in the house; it will come up with recipe suggestions based on what you have on hand.
  • Read blogs that focus on your areas of interest.
  • Go to the sea, sit in front of it with a cup of coffee and read or write, listening to the waves.

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  • Have a picnic or a drink in your garden on a picnic blanket.
  • Start growing your own herb garden/potted herbs on your windowsill.
  • Watch hauls on https://www.youtube.com/ ; they’re really addictive and good for zoning out to. There are many different kinds, relating to whatever you like to collect.
  • Go to the library, get a book on a specific type of crafting and make something from it as a gift for someone.
  • Go to a craft fair with a small amount of cash to spend and look around at the interesting handmade items.
  • Get on a bus and go somewhere you never usually go to. Take pictures along the way.
  • Write a funny fictional short story involving yourself and people you know.
  • Go shopping for one specific thing you haven’t tried before, eg, butter mint tea, chilli chocolate, an item from the Asian supermarket.
  • Buy a DVD in a charity shop and have a movie day, with homemade snacks and the comfort of your sofa instead of the discomfort of an uncooperative cinema seat.
  • Go for a long walk in an unexplored direction and stop at every place you’ve never been to along the way.
  • Make a photo album with captions and embellish it an ebullient way.
  • Make a collage out of items you find lying around the house; you’ll feel childishly creative again.
  • Try to complete an entire novel in one day. Set yourself a monthly reading challenge.
  • Make French toast with your favourite toppings or try more adventurous ones.

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  • Go for a long drive along the coastline or through the countryside.
  • Sit outside and watch a sunrise or sunset with a drink and still your thoughts.
  • Draw any object around you in your own style. Start a book of random sketches.
  • Have a bath while you listen to jazz or classical music.
  • Start a collection of thrifted items, eg, hats, earrings, belts, teapots, records, antique books.
  • Go for a walk and look for berries/flowers. Bring a basket with you and collect things along the way.
  • Sit under a tree and read. I find that it makes me feel more wistful and more likely to become immersed in the storyline.
  • Make yourself a reading corner in your house, with a comfortable chair, a blanket, cushions, quiet music, a lamp and a place for your tea.
  • Make a gratitude journal and note down anything small that has brightened up your day.
  • Start a dream journal and document your most bizarre and funniest dreams.
  • Learn about types of flowers, so that when you go for a walk you can identify them.
  • Get a set for painting your own mug/moneybox/decoration.
  • Look through your jewellery and put items out on display so you don’t forget to wear them and then rotate them when they have had ample use.

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  • Collect flowers and petals and press them in a book.
  • Look up recipes online for soap/hand cream/face masks and make your own at home with natural ingredients.
  • Soak your hands or feet, moisturise them and give yourself a free manicure or pedicure.
  • Cook takeaway-style meals and freeze them for future days when you are pressed for time and just want to reheat something.
  • Experiment with coffee shop-style coffee, using syrups and different varieties of milk. Get cheap coffee stencils to decorate the top with cinnamon or chocolate.
  • Freshen up your home with pretty flowers.

Hopefully this gives you a few ideas for inexpensive things to do on an empty day! Hope you find some creative things to do when you’re bored, broke and on a budget 🙂

Cheap, Easy Ways to Feel More Positive

20 Easy Ways to Feel More Positive About Life

Budget Ways To Feel Better, Tips for Self-Care February 8, 2018

I always find when I’m feeling negative that if I physically create something positive it shifts my mindset. Over-thinking can leave you feeling incapacitated, but if you can take some sort of small, positive action it helps you to quiet your worries.

Here are a few ideas of things to do to feel more positive:

  • Clear things out. Throwing things out makes you feel like you’re getting rid of the crap that’s in your head too. Having less visible clutter makes you feel more at peace  (which is why mine is mostly shoved into cupboards. Out of sight, out of mind, at least until it falls on my head.) Bagging up items to give to charity is a good form of distraction too.
  • Buy a notebook with a cheerful cover or caption on it. Get a new pen and start a journal with a huge to-do list of only pleasant things. (No boring or dreaded reminders allowed.)
  • Plan a nearby holiday. It could be camping, staying in a cheap B&B in a town you don’t know well or visiting a friend. Give yourself a budget  and plan for a few months away. It feels more attainable than a big summer holiday overseas.
  • Get supplies for a new project. Learn how to make jewellery, learn a new language, start painting. Get supplies in the pound shop or discount book shops.
  • Make a calendar just to pencil in books you want to read each month/week, or in my case, year.
  • Make fudge and when you’re finished eat all of it 🙂
  • Make a gift basket or hamper for someone you know.
  • Empty your wardrobe and put everything back in new outfit combinations.
  • Buy writing icing, sparkly sprinkles and confetti and decorate buns or a cake in a really extravagant way.
  • Make mood playlists. “Hyped up mood/chilled out mood/happy mood/get me out of this grumpy mood bloody quickly” music.
  • Write someone you usually text a handwritten letter.
  • Change a room around. Add small decorations or move furniture around to give it a new feel.
  • Sit in a dark room filled with candles and enjoy silence. If you don’t have a fireplace listen to videos online of the sound of fire crackling.
  • Have a hot shower with your favourite scent of shower gel. It’s good to have one to wake you up and one to put you to sleep. At the minute, mine are a lemon and chilli one and a marshmallow one.
  • Put up fairy lights for no reason.
  • Make cocktails and appetisers just for yourself.
  • Go back to paper reading. Have a magazine-reading marathon.
  • Have a picnic somewhere tranquil where all you can hear is water, leaves rustling or birds.
  • I read in one of my kids’ books that if you’re worried you should draw lots of clouds to help your worries float away. I wonder if thirty is too old for this type of thing? I imagine it to be quite relaxing.
  • Get new sheets, spray them with lavender and have a restorative sleep (if you have kids, obviously skip step three.)

What do you like to do when you’re having a bad day?

Make an ideas board on a budget

How to Make a Homemade Ideas Board for Free.

Crafts, Home Decorating, Self-Care February 2, 2018

I decided to make something today as an experiment to see if I could produce something inspiring that didn’t require going out to buy materials or advance-planning. I like to set myself little pointless challenges because I’m easily excited by that type of thing.

So, here is how I set about making a very unprofessional ideas board 🙂 (the point of this exercise isn’t to have a flawless finished product, but to relax and make something personal to you.)

I used a large piece of thick cardboard: the ribbed kind. You can use whatever size you like.

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I took a piece of fabric that I had left over from a dress I made for my daughter. I placed it under the piece of cardboard and cut around it, making the fabric 1 to 2 inches larger than the cardboard so that it could be folded over the back of the board. The piece of material I had wasn’t large enough to cover the full piece of cardboard so I sewed two smaller pieces together. I used a sewing machine, but you could do this by hand, or leave it out entirely if the idea fills you with horror.

 

You could also sew together different patterned fabrics to create more interest. Depending on your sewing skills, patchwork squares could be used, or a pocket could be added to the fabric.

After sewing the two sides together I opened it out and flattened the seam in one direction so that it would sit smoothly against the board.

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I pinned the corners around the back of the board, folding them in like on an envelope. I then sewed these to secure them in place. (You could also use tape, glue or tack them.)

 

I taped down the edges of the fabric and pulled them back tautly so the fabric would sit flatly against the front of the board.

Next, I took a piece of ribbon and stitched the ends of it to the back of the board. (Again, you could use tape or glue.) Don’t worry about being too perfectionistic about the back of the board as, unless my wonderful method fails and it collapses off the wall, no one will ever have to see it.

 

After attaching the ribbon, the board was ready for ideas to be pinned to it. I used some pastel coloured push pins. You can use any colour you like, or just use plain drawing pins. If the cardboard isn’t very thick just be careful you don’t stab yourself when you have pushed them through, or push them in at an angle to avoid this!

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You can add anything you like to your board. It is supposed to be inspiring to look at and it’s designed to remind you of positive ideas and things you want to experiment with. Avoid putting work-related information on it. Its purpose is to encourage creativity and allow you to daydream; not to act as a reminder of your incomplete to-do list. You can update it as frequently as you like, or tailor it to what you find inspiring in a particular month.

Here are some ideas of items you can add to it:

  • A list of books you plan to read.
  • A word that prompts ideas in you or reminds you of a quality of yours would like to focus on more.
  • Uplifting quotes.
  • Recipes to try and pictures of the end results.
  • Home décor you admire that gives you inspiration for ways to change your home.
  • A list of music you would like to learn more about.
  • Any topic to research for fun.
  • A list of kind acts that you have recently witnessed.
  • Clothing styles you would like to try/an item that you would like to add to your wardrobe this month.
  • A photograph that reminds you of the future memories you’d like to create.
  • A relaxing project you plan to complete this month.
  • A list of things you would like to buy.
  • A drink recipe.
  • A place you want to dream about visiting/a nearby place you can visit now.

You don’t just have to add notes or pictures to it, you can also pin fabrics, mementoes, tickets, embellishments, etc. It is something that you can constantly add to and that should evolve with you, as your interests and plans change.

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