Simple savings, reducing bills and cutting back

Making a list and checking it twice – that’s exactly what I’ll be doing over the next few weeks!

I was never under any false illusion that babies were cheap, especially as I’m a god-father (twice) and have been very involved in their lives thus far. However, never did I realise that you could easily spend £5000 and have pretty much next to nothing to show for it!

I’ve therefore decided to take time out one day and dedicated it to checking our outgoings to see if there is anywhere we can reduce outgoings in preparation for Pancakes arrival, and J’s maternity leave.

Simple Money Saving Steps

Other areas we plan to save money include using the following website a LOT more often;

  • Notifyy – track the products you love and get notified when they go on sale.
  • CamelCamelCamel – a website where you can set up watch lists for Amazon products and get notified when they drop below your “ideal price”. Great for planning ahead for things like prams, bottles etc.
  • Online Sales – buying last season clothes, accessories and toys in retailers online sales.
  • eBay – we’ve already started looking especially at things such as maternity clothes.

So, with my eyes opened a little, the next few weeks I’ll be double checking our TV, broadband, mobiles, insurance and energy suppliers (amongst others) are some of the cheapest out there.

TV Packages

Currently: Sky
We only have the basic Sky package, partly due to being the type who watch a lot of movies or sport and partly due to the astronomical prices they expect people to pay. Annoyingly we can’t cut them out the equation as where we live, we don’t receive any TV signal at all and Virgin haven’t yet dug up our street.

Broadband

Currently: BT Infinity 2
Currently on Fibre with BT and as work pay for 90% of the cost it doesn’t seem worth reducing it as it’ll save us less than £1 per month!

Mobile Phones

Currently: Vodafone
We both buy our own phones which means we can go on a SIM only deal and recently switched to Vodafone on their 12mth SIMO plan at £15.30. We chose this plan after using the Billmonitor service which goes through your previous bills and usage stats advises what you’re actually using in an average month. This great OFCOM website means we’re not paying for benefits that we would never use.

Insurance

Currently: A mixture of companies
Like most, we already check comparison websites when it comes to car and home insurance renewals. On top of that, we sell those “cute toys” on eBay and recently got £50 for Brian Robot Toy. Every little helps! One thing we should look at is dual-car insurance as we’re both with LV= and I think this could save us an extra bob or two.

Energy Suppliers

Currently: OVO
We tied into a deal 4 weeks before everyone started dropping their prices meaning that we’re paying over the top. There is a get-out-fee so we’ll have to sit tight until November, but on the flip side, any overpayments you make, earns 3% interest which is not only better than the 0% you get from other suppliers, but also better than most bank accounts!

Food

Currently: Aldi/Tesco/Sainsburys
We’re not ashamed to say we’ve been using Aldi for close to 8 years now. Granted, you can’t get everything you need for a weeks shop, but for basics they’re great prices and good quality food. After seeing the TV show Bargain Fever Britain we may take a look at Approved Food.

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Who wins online competitions?

“You have to be in it to win it”… that’s what they say isn’t it? Although I’m not the usual “comper” type (there are some proper hardcore ones out there), as I write this I have just entered the Mamas And Papas VIP competition. I do often wonder who actually wins these competitions and what odds does the occasional comper stand against those hardcore crew?

Selling Your Sole

From my own business experience, personal data is actually worth an awful lot of money especially when it can be recycled for future marketing campaigns. However as I’ve already handed over most of my personal details when I created an online account and requested a brochure, it makes sense to enter the odd competition here and there, especially with reputable companies.

Still, I’m trying to be as careful as possible to ensure that I am ticking and unticking all the correct boxes so as not to open our letter box to an influx of 3rd party marketing crap that we’ve no interest in at all. I’m aware at how quickly it can escalate and before I know it, my mobile and home phone will be ringing with offers of compensation for the crash I never had.

To help with the expected increase in emails I’ve also created an alias email address for Pancake so I can filter any inbound emails to a dedicated folder making it easier to manage.

Have you ever won an online compeition?

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Mamas & Papas Competition

As part of the Mamas And Papas competition, you’re requested to take a photo from their latest brochure of one of the 16 products with a VIP sticker on it showing which prize you’d like to win. Simply Tweet or Instagram it, and that’s, Bobs you’re Uncle!

A quick glance at the required #MamasAndPapasVIP shows there are, unsurprisingly, hundreds upon hundreds of entries which makes me wonder what the actual chances are. I guess someone has to win it!

I selected the Mylo2 with the reasoning behind my selection being of typical male rational. It looks cool and the seat straps are almost F1 like! Also it has lots of stars so therefore must be good 🙂

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Redundancy? Now? Is someone having a laugh?

Pants! Pants! Pants!

As if having a baby isn’t stressful enough, today I found out that our employer lost its contract with the 3rd party I currently provide support to. Come 31st May I’ll either be working for the new 3rd party who are an offshore outfit (if they decide to TUPE us across) or I’ll have to find a new role elsewhere or face redundancy.

Having been made redundant 15 years ago, I know how much of a kick in the nuts in can be and the impact it has on your life, not just financial. So, as we enter what is probably one of the most costly times of our lives, we face the real possibility of additional pressure.

I guess it’s time to update my LinkedIn profile and once again get “networking” while allaying any fears and worries back home.

Wine Tasting & Pregnancy

On the flipside, tonight we met up with more friends and up until now, had held off from telling them about Pancake as we’ve always wanted to tell as many close friends face to face rather than them finding out on that dread Facebook.

We’ll have to be quick in telling them as it will become obvious within minutes as we’re attending a wine tasting evening that has been planned since December 2014. Obviously I’ll be the only one doing the tasting and I’ve already phoned ahead to arrange a selection of cordials so Jane doesn’t miss out completely. I will also tell white lies and tell her all the wines are horrible 😉

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They named me what?

Baby names… where do you begin?

I had no idea that Baby Names is like entering a strangely unique world, after all until a baby is on its way, most of us just accept our own name, and those of our friends, without any question. It was decided for us, and most of us trundle through life being know what was given to us by our parents.

Now we’re responsible for a lifelong label! I guess first of all ruling out names that simply don’t go with your surname due to comedy value (and most probably bullying while at school) is a good start. Then theres the friends who had babies before you and have claimed one of your favourites. What about passing on parents names, but without upsetting the other side of the family?

Then there are the unconventional names, which we’ve ruled out. No Apples, Nutella is a definite no as is Ambrosia (can’t help but think custard) and Velvet just sounds like a stripper from Vegas!

I think we’ve also agreed to steer clear from unisex names such as Hilary to save any confusion in the early years, and again, to reduce the likelihood of being picked on at school.

Name Hunter

A quick Google revealed a website called NameBerry which truely opened my eyes to this mysterious world. So many names, so many meanings and so many “Why the hell would you call a baby that?”… Most of last years Top 10 are pretty cool, some we couldn’t possibly use but certainly two that we’d already short listed before knowing they were so popular.

It’s actually quite good spending a bit of time on sites like NameBerry, just to give you a bit of inspiration. You can even see live names being searched, most of which are sensible, but occasionally you see Katniss appear (a great trilogy).

2014 Top 10 Baby Names

1JackImogen
2OliverKhaleesi
3CharlieCharlotte
4HarryIsla
5JacobCora
6AlfiePenelope
7NoahViolet
8OscarAmelia
9GeorgeEleanor
10JamesHazel
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“The Fudge Factory” here we come!

It’s still very early days, but desperate to start a little planning and allow ourselves to get a little excited, we’ve grabbed two tickets to head over to Manchester to the Baby & Toddler Show.

Once I booked the tickets I did start having second thoughts. What had I done? Booked two tickets to a “show” that was not only going to be rammed, but rammed with people with bumps and hormones. Not sure it was my wisest moment but at least it will give us a chance to get ideas on a whole range of things.

We’re bad parents-to-be

We may be frowned upon by some, called bad parents by others but out of all the exhibitors I have to admit to looking forward to visiting The Fudge Factory the most 🙂

Prams, car seats, nappies, cots, bedding, baby cognitive toys etc all play an important part for sure, and for some it may even excite, however if we’re to be honest it was The Fudge Factory that we both initially noticed on the exhibitor list.

Once we’re stuffed full of fudge I’m sure we’ll then head off into the crowds looking at what the latest “must have essentials” are, and the prices associated with said necessities. We’ve already had the discussion that for some stuff, we’re more than happy to buy second hand or get last years models at reduced prices if we ever find any returns/factory outlet shops, but that’s for another post/day.

So back to the show… No idea what to expect, however I remember when I was a kid going to boat shows in Manchester. No idea why as we struggled to buy and inflatable dinghy, but still I remember getting excited walking round viewing everything on offer, dreaming about the future and grabbing every single pen I could get my hands on 🙂

I will be a little more restrained this time!

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