Archives for posts with tag: budgeting

I’m back! I’ve been off on annual leave from work for my 29th birthday, and despite my intentions to increase the frequency of my posts, this is actually my first post in over 10 days! Poor show, I apologise.

I had a great week off including a wee night out on the town with friends. I managed to blag my way into a club for free, just because it was my birthday (hey, it’s worth asking!), and also managed to charm my lovely husband into picking me up (taxi fare would be around £40, kerrching!).

I was pleased to see a bit of sunshine on my actual birthday (Monday), which I enjoyed on the beach at Burntisland, Fife.

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Mid week I headed south with one of my sisters and her 3-year-old daughter for a camping trip. We had a great couple of days visiting Alnwick Castle & Gardens and Lindisfarne. Entry to the castle & gardens was the greatest extravagance at £22 per adult (eek!) but only a penny for kids under 5 (phew!). Visiting Alnwick is really best done on a nice day as the gardens are a great attraction and the castle is just as amazing outside (if not more so), than inside.

The castle is the setting for some of the scenes of Hogwarts in the Harry Potter movies. As an avid Harry Potter fan, this was the most exciting part of the trip for me. I spent the most part of the visit buzzing around searching for parts of the castle that resembled scenes from the film.

Older kids can take part in Harry Potter inspired ‘flying lessons’, which seemed to involve racing brooms hobby-horse style. Then there’s Knights Quest, where children can dress up as knights and maidens and make magic wands, coats of arms and clay tiles. These activities are included in the admission price for the castle, so they’re worth doing to get the most out of your money.

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We ventured into Alnwick town in search of somewhere to eat (ideally fish & chips!). We stumbled upon a little Italian called Caffe Tirreno. It was reassuringly busy and looked child friendly, and the prices on the menu in the window were very appealing. Two 11″ pizzas, two soft drinks and a slice of chocolate fudge cake (happy birthday to me!), all for just just £20.50. Bargain! On the way back we did pass Carlo’s Fish & Chips, which also looked very inviting.

The following day we drove over Lindisfarne Causeway to Holy Island. The island itself is very picturesque with an interesting history too. Unfortunately, my 3-year-old niece wasn’t interested in history so we took a stroll around the village, along to the grounds of the castle, where she enjoyed rolling down hills, and to the coast, where we searched for crabs in rock pools.

We camped at the Barn at Beal, which is also a cafe and visitors centre. They have a small area for tents near the entrance. It was great value at only £9 per night for all three of us. The only down side was that there was only one male and one female shower which each had a toilet in the cubicle. This meant that if someone was using the shower, then the toilet was not accessible for anyone else to use. That aside, it was great value for money, and I would probably stay there again, rather than paying the £20+ that some other campsites in the area were charging. Also on site is a birds of prey centre. We didn’t have time to go, but other kids on the campsite seemed to have enjoyed it.

I’ve also been enjoying the Edinburgh Festival this week, but I’ll have to leave that for my next post.

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Yesterday evening we visited my in-laws, where we ate home-made apple & cream sponge (thank you very much to my sister-in-law, Karen). My husband’s parents had returned from their holidays, during which they visited the Imperial War Museum. They brought us back these amusing postcards; needless to say, I am finding them very useful as motivational phrases for my quest to curb my spending.

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So, budgeting is no new concept. In fact, during the World Wars, women had a tough time with very little money for cosmetics and limited access to fashion clothing. I’m not suggesting that we all cover our legs in gravy rather than spending money on tights, but there must be some tips we can glean from reading about these wonderful wartime beauties.

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To combat the rather masculine style of
“Utility Clothing’’, introduced by the government as functional and cost effective options, women sought other ways to feel pretty. Hair and make-up became a way of expressing one’s femininity with more elaborate styles coming into fashion. Hats were thought to be too great an expense. However bows and ribbons, made from fabric remnants, were worn instead.

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I’m not usually one for elaborate hairstyles. However, I was due to attend a wedding on Saturday evening and, due to the exhaust fiasco (which, by the way, cost us £136!), I didn’t have time to wash my hair. I got home, dug out the hairspray and started backcombing franticly. I’m no stranger to a bit of backcombing as my hair tends to need a little encouragement on the day between hair washes, but this was a whole other level. I shaped my tresses into an almost bee-hive style at the front, and then started to pin curl some of the lengths. I didn’t really expect the curls to stay put, but I was surprised at how simple they were to create, and how easy they were to secure.

I arrived at the wedding feeling glamourous, despite my thrown-together outfit and my mad dash in the rain. I got lots of great compliments on my hair too, which is always a good boost to the confidence.

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I recently booked some flights from Edinburgh to Dublin on a well-known-but-not-so-popular budget airline. You guessed it: RyanAir.

One of my sisters lives in Dublin so I’ve been planning to visit her this year. I’ve been eyeing the prices for this route for a few months awaiting a good deal, and last week, I found it.

The best advice I can offer when flying RyanAir is not to get excited until you see the final price. There are so many hidden charges that can pop up, so when the price is advertised at £9 (usually in not-so-subtle red writing on a bright yellow background), you can at least double or triple it.

On this particular occasion the overall price for a return flight for one person worked out at £50.50, with £20 of that figure being added at the last minute (as soon as you select which card you would like to pay with – as if there’s an alternate payment method!). I still feel that the overall price is reasonable though.

The other factor to consider when booking with RyanAir is the amount of luggage you will be taking on your trip. On this occasion we’ve opted for hand luggage only to avoid extra charges. We’re only going to be away for 3 nights so we’ll just have to pack lightly, wear layers for travel and go easy on the toiletries/liquids!

I think the biggest bug bear that people have with budget airlines is that flights are advertised at one price but the actual price is considerably more. In 2009, I purchased a flight to Dublin that was advertised as costing £1.49, after all the taxes and admin fees were added, it was £17. In fact, I once paid £23 for a flight advertised at £0.01! Crazy, right?

So here are my top tips for flying RyanAir within budget:
Be flexible with dates;
Travel light;
Measure your hand luggage (RyanAir restrictions are listed on their website)
Weigh your luggage – if you opt to add hold luggage, the limit is usually 15kg. DO NOT EXCEED THIS! Hand luggage should be less than 10kg;
Don’t get excited about the price until you get to the screen where they ask you to input card details. Once you’ve selected your card type you will see the final price;
Don’t buy food on board – its overpriced- the food in the airport will be cheaper;
Buy a bottle of water in the airport, especially for longer flights;
Wear layers when travelling (I like to wear a pashmina as a scarf, which can double as a coverup on sunny holidays or a blanket if the ‘plane is too cold)
Arrive early (they’re very strict about check in times and the ‘plane will usually board up to 40 mins before the departure time on your ticket);
Don’t bother paying extra for speedy boarding, just get to the gate more than 40 minutes before your departure time;
Make sure you only have ONE ITEM OF HAND LUGGAGE! You will NOT be allowed to carry a handbag onboard in addition to your hand luggage. It MUST fit in your main bag;
If you want to purchase duty free items, ensure they fit in your hand luggage. Additional shopping bags are not permitted.

If you know what to expect, then RyanAir can actually be a good (and cheap!) way to travel. I have had some great deals from RyanAir over the last few years: Edinburgh Marrakech £98 return, Edinburgh to Dublin £17 one way, Edinburgh to Malta £114 return, and many more.

I hope these points are of use. I travel RyanAir more often than other airlines solely because it is cheaper. However, if there’s not a huge difference in price, check what’s included and what the final price will be. You may be surprised.

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Today I joined Twitter. I’m still to decide how I feel about it. After spending hours setting up an account and fluttering through the giant birdcage that is Twitter, I feel like I have achieved very little. I have wished Daniel Radcliffe a happy birthday in hopes of getting it to ‘trend’, gathered 3 followers and lost 1 already.

Not a very fruitful afternoon. And it’s sunny outside! Here in Scotland, sunny days are hard to come by, so I really should be making the most of it. At least I managed to get the washing hung out in the garden.

My money saving tip today was to talk my darling hubby out of going out to dinner. I’m sure we can find something good to make at home at just a fraction of the cost. I did my supermarket shop online today as well, so at least I’m practicing what I preach! It’s being delivered on Monday night. Also, we’re going fishing this evening (off the harbour), so if we catch anything, that’s free food!

Nobody has visited my blog today, I’m guessing it’s because it’s the weekend. So I thought I’d try a bit of reverse psychology and tell people NOT to read this post. Sorry if you thought it would be more interesting. A post like this is very much a result of a very sleepy me! Happy Saturday!

In other news… I had the best night last night, chilling with my bestest lady friends. Gossip and food fest are just the best Friday night activities…. This morning I tried Chocolate Sugar Puffs, they kinda just taste like Sugar Puffs but they turn the milk brown…. The chilli plant has been repotted and is settling into it’s new home nicely!… The big batch of soup from the allotment is nearly finished, fortunately father-in-law has kindly donated another turnip from his allotment to go into the next batch!

I have spent £1 today. Mainly down to working a 12 hour shift, taking food to work and only taking 2 out of the 3 breaks that were due to me (2 coffees @ 50p each = £1!).

During my coffee break I chatted to an intern during about supermarket shopping and how easy it is to spend more than you planned. She told me she usually shops in the convenience stores ie. the ones that hike the prices up just because they’re in a busy area. She does this because she doesn’t have a car. Isn’t that ridiculous?! She has to get 2 buses to the nearest supermarket so instead she just accepts that she has to pay more for her groceries than everyone else- crazy talk.

Before we had a car, my husband and I would catch the bus to the supermarket and rush around trying to get everything we needed before the bus home. Most of the time we’d end up missing it as we’d get distracted by products on offer or freshly baked cookies… Or anything really. Supermarkets are clever. They make you spend money that you don’t want to spend. They make you buy products that you really know you shouldn’t (hands up who’s bought Ben & Jerrys ice-cream because it was on offer or it was conveniently placed? Heck, I have 3 packs of Sugar Puffs at home just because they were in offer, buy 1 get 2 free?!? Go figure.).

Have you thought about buying your weekly shop online? The idea seems quite indulgent. Choosing all your shopping online and then someone else selects it for you, packs it and delivers it to your door. Yes, there is a delivery charge, usually about £3. Chances are, if you get a bus to the supermarket and back you’ll already have spend close to that anyway. The intern I was speaking to told me it was £5.60 for her & her boyfriend to take a trip to Asda. Not so indulgent now, huh?

There’s another reason why online supermarket shopping could save you money though, even with the delivery charge. If you shop in the supermarket, you might go with a list and a budget in mind. Inevitably, you’ll leave with extra stuff and having spent more than intended (you might even forget to pick up stuff you wanted but going home with things you didn’t need – how annoying!). If you get to the check-out and the nice lady say £38.70 but you only planned to spend £30, you don’t put things back. That would be awkward, especially with the people in the queue sighing, huffing and giving you the evil eye. Instead you just accept that you have overspent. We’ve all been there.

Online you can pick up what you want, but also put back as much as you like! It’s never embarrassing because you can faff about as much as you like at the check out. Nobody’s watching! Everything is easy to find and its not a problem if you change your mind. You can be as frugal as you want and nobody’s looking over your shoulder as you count those pennies back into your purse. Try it, you might just surprise yourself as to how sensible you can be!

Evening all! I’m a little bit off topic today with only a snippet about my budgeting efforts at the end of this post. I’ve mentioned the new Potter movie a couple of times in previous posts so I’m going to let you know my thoughts. I went to see the movie on Saturday night with a group of friends who are all HP enthusiasts. I thoroughly enjoyed the finale of Harry, Ron & Hermione’s adventures. In fact I’d say it’s the best one yet.

My only issue was the scene in which Harry ‘dies’. Even in the book this scene annoyed me a little, but right up there on the screen it was most cringeworthy. I realise it was necessary to have a scene between Harry & Dumbledore but that level of brightness was extremely harsh on the eyes and was a bit too much like heaven’s gates – just too cliché.

If it was me in JK’s position, I would’ve set the scene in a more mellow location, perhaps a table at the Three Broomsticks or Madam Puddifoot’s or even Dumbledore’s office at Hogwart’s. It could have still been shot in a hazy, pseudo-reality way, but it would’ve been easier on the eyes and maybe a bit less cringy!

I loved Maggie Smith as Professor McGonagall in this movie. Mrs Weazley (Julie Walters) is great too, especially when she calls Bellatrix (Helena Bonham Carter) a bitch when she goes for Ginny: ‘not my daughter, you bitch!’

In other news, my intentions to save money have been fairly unsuccessful today; I took a zip-bagged home made soup (with father-in-law’s allotment grown onions and courgettes) but stupidly forgot I had it and left it in the fridge at work. I have a day off tomorrow so plan on sleeping late and I might make some bananas that are about to go off into banana bread. I’ve also promised my husband I’ll do a large roast chicken for dinner & sandwiches for work on Wednesday. Very domesticated for me – wish me luck!