Happy Half Term, the pick of the voucher box

039/365: New shoes?

New shoes? by benjaminasmith, on Flickr

Happy half term, a few ideas to make it less painless and expensive, from the folks at www.voucherbox.co.uk. I have got out the habit of checking for vouchers before I commit to buying, but there are always some bargains to be had, make day one of the holidays a PJ day, make some plans and snaffle some discounts… Continue reading

Are you really saving money?

This rather clever frame within a frame Nationwide ad had me thinking about the lengths we go to to save money.  When we need to economise I immediately start planning lentil and potato soup for the next month, whereas Mr A focusses on cutting down on our biggest outgoings first. This did leave us without a car for a couple of months once, but I suppose at least we still ate well.

Although I might be right to think about food as in the UK our monthly food spend is often our second biggest expenditure, after our mortgage. What do you economise on?

Magic Beans

Nottingham Playhouse challenged us to grow a beanstalk as their panto this year is Jack and the Bean Stalk. My magic beans arrived in the post. I thought I’d left it too late to join in, everyone else’s beans were growing so fast. We really needed to get some gold too, as we’d spent so much money already, and it was only the start of the holidays.

But once a magic bean breaks out of it’s hard case, then wow it wastes no time. In three days it was this big and peeping over the top of its jam jar. I was hopeful. Continue reading

Completing forms in the probate process

funeral flower 4

I thought this was a really useful guest post, and judging from the response on Twitter, one that is worth reading, despite the difficult topic.

Losing a loved one is one of the biggest traumas we’re most likely to face and that trauma is compounded by the fact that you’ll probably have to sort out their practical and financial affairs. This will include making the necessary arrangements to distribute their financial assets if there is no spouse. The right to do this is called probate. Continue reading

Guest post: How To Save Responsibly

Picture credit brockvicky

At the moment there seems to be a far more positive atmosphere than there has been for quite a few years when it comes to how people think their finances will work out over the next few years. Although there is still a great deal of talk about cutbacks and austerity, the UK has in fact coped much better than many other European countries in getting through a difficult recession which was caused by the fallout from the banking crisis. Continue reading

Budgeting with free Money Tools from Barclays

What tools do you use to budget? For me it often comes down to pen and pencil. Mr A made a whizzy spreadsheet for our joint finances, but old fashioned pen and paper makes me feel more in control.

It really annoys me that my bank account doesn’t give me more ways to manage my money. I am so used to being able to search the internet, facebook, twitter for the snippets of information I require, so why can’t I search my internet banking for specific information? Continue reading

The Game of Life


One of my favourite games when I was a kid was the Game of Life, don’t know if you ever played it? After sticking little pegs in a plastic car to represent partner and kids and landing on a square that determined your job, there came a point in the game, a day of reckoning, where you could either retire to the millionaire’s mansion or the country cottage. Anyway it got me thinking about how I might play that moment in my real life.

To tell the truth I didn’t really get how to weigh up the different annuity options at the end of the game. As a kid I would often opt for the country cottage just because it seemed like a cosier place to be. But I’m pretty sure there was another reason, I think you got more security there? I need to buy this game to play with my own children, but I googled the rules and found that:

If you retire at Countryside Acres,
collect 1 LIFE Tile. Your LIFE tiles
are safe! If the draw pile has run out,
players cannot take tiles from you
when they land on LIFE spaces.

So there was definitely more security and less risk in that cottage.The different retirement options baffled me, so the cottage seemed like an easy option.

Anyway fast forward to real life, just like in the Game of Life, I prefer low risks with my finances, but I married someone who is hell bent on the millionaire’s mansion. That day of retirement reckoning is getting closer, but I am not sure I am any closer to understanding pensions and how to calculate annuity.

I read recently you can get them with a fixed and a variable portion which sounds like a middle ground between the country cottage and the millionaires mansion to me. I need to put aside a day for a real day of reckoning. I still feel like that ten year old retiring to a country cottage, but twenty five years on and it is high time I made a plan to make that a reality!

What was your Game of Life strategy and has it played out in real life?

Commissioned Post

#IF Mr Osborne #IF!

© Andrew Aitchison / IF Campaign

This morning’s George Osborne ‘flashmob’ in Parliament Square to lobby the Chancellor to stick to the government’s pledge on international aid in the budget. It’s all part of the Enough Food IF campaign.

There is enough food for everyone but almost 900 million people will go to bed hungry tonight.

After watching numerous videos on Friday night for Red Nose Day, of parents starving so their kids can eat, risking their lives to do so, of kids starving, I urge you to make some noise. #IF #SpottheGeorge

Guest Post: Debt advice for the New Year

Wipe our Debt

Wipe our Debt by Images_of_Money, on Flickr

Sometimes, it takes real courage to face up to a New Year. Just as we’re congratulating ourselves on getting through another year without anything too terrible happening, we wake up to the realisation that it’s all starting again.

The number on the calendar changes, but all too often, the New Year looks like it’s shaping up to be a lot like the old one. Millions of us, of course, will be taking an unwelcome reminder of 2012 with us into 2013 – our debts. The best way of dealing with them will depend on your situation, but there are a few tips that’ll work for just about everyone who’s borrowed money. Continue reading