Wednesday, 25 April 2018

How Not To Over Spend

Oops. Well I had planned to blog a few posts in April and I had so many posts lined up in my head, however it has seemingly fallen a bit flat on its face! My last post about April Fools was on the 1st of the month and today is the 25th. How rubbish am I? Finally I have had the chance to write some stuff down and grab a photo from my collection and here we are. Roll on to the post.

Now if you'd spoke to me 10 years ago about money I would of confessed I was pretty crap with it. Cash burned a hole in my pocket, credit cards were my major downfall and savings - well I didn't even know what that word meant. Roll on a few years, I'm so much better than I ever used to be. Yes I have my moments of spending on various bits of tat, but as I've got older and wiser (LOL!) I'm far better. There are quite a few ways to stop over spending, firstly I'm going to start with the obvious one...

Cash Not Cards - With the invention of contactless cards, it so easy just to tap tap tap. You basically forget what you have in your account and just tap away your cash until it is too late. By popping to an ATM/cash machine and actually withdrawing physical cash to pop in your purse, you can see what you have. It's a safer way to spend money, because it is actually your money you are spending!

Credit Cards  - Now credit cards are OK for some purchases, perhaps a holiday so you are protected by your credit card provider. However other than that I seriously do not recommend them. Why? Because they are not real money. It's an easy option to get carried away and spend money which you do not have. You're just leading the money from the provider, like a loan. When you first get a credit card you are likely to get a 0% card, but as soon as that runs out ... you'll be paying interest on your balance. Ouch.

Weekly Allowance - If money is tight, I suggest an allowance which I have done myself before. After you have paid your bills, popped money into a savings account etc - work out what you have left for the rest of the month. Split this money equally between the weeks of the month - an allowance as such. Any money you have left which you didn't spend in the week - save this. Pop it towards a credit card payment for example or put it in savings. Once you become savvy with your spending allowance, you'll see your left over money creep up. Yay!

Vouchers And Points Cards - These are a god send. Some points cards give you perks, where when you spend in store and use that stores points card you collect points. For example Boots have their advantage points scheme which for every £1 you spend you receive 4 points. You can then spend these points on future purchases, plus they'll also send you vouchers. So yes you're technically spending money, but you will be saving money in the long run.

Make A List - I am a avid list maker, even with house chores or a shopping list for food. It really helps to write a list as it really helps in not going off plan. Just stick to the list and you should be fine. However there is one thing if you are doing the food shop, don't do it when you're hungry. It might sound stupid, but it is totally true that you always overspend when doing the weekly shop if you do it on an empty hungry stomach. Trust someone who knows, because will power is a little stretched when faced with tempting foods.

Shop Around  - It is so easy to just buy something then and there, but I will always advise you to shop around and compare your purchases - especially big purchases like washing machines. When we were looking for a jumperoo for Grace I was tempted by one on Very and it was £129.99! The hubby looked on Amazon and found the same one (just a different colour) for a cheaper price of £79.99. Think of the money we have saved just because we looked around and opted for a different colour. Nuts I tell you.

Do I Need It? - This relates to back when I read Marie Kondo's book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying. That book has really helped me when it comes to buying things and it always makes me ask myself 'do I need it/do I need this?'. Sometimes I'll end up walking around the shops with an item in my hands, then I get to the time where I have to go to the till to buy the item - I'll have a good look and ask myself 'do I still want it?'. It works really well and I've mostly put things back on the shelf.

Stop Treating Yourself - Now get you your calculator out and add this up. If you are the kind of person who likes to buy yourself a Costa coffee in the morning and lunch out everyday, it will soon add up to quite a bit of cash. Making lunch and bring it in to work will save you money ultimately. You just need to start planning food prep in advance.

Barter - The hubby and I recently purchased a new mattress for a eye watering price. When we were signing on the doted line, my hubby asked the shop assistance if there was 'anything they can do?'. Sometimes you might not get money off, but you might get something for free. Or if you're buying two items they might be able to offer you a deal. What is the saying... If you don't ask, you don't try.

Right folks that is all I can think of for now and I hope some of these tips help you out if you are trying not to over spend. I promise to not leave it too long in the future. Have a good day people.

Angela x


Sunday, 1 April 2018

Happy Easter - April Fools Thoughts...

Happy Easter everyone I hope you've all had a good day chowing down on a few chocolate eggs. Sick much? I have stuffed my face with a nice roast lunch and spent a nice time with family. To me that's what the day should be about - chocolate is overrated. Today is also April Fools day. Personally I'm not the biggest April Fools fan, I might sound a tad boring or old, but I cannot see the point.

You get people playing their jokes ...having a laugh. Pranking on one another can be fun, however sometimes people do take it a step too far and it will be distasteful and hurtful.

Imagine this scenario...
Person one... I have some news.
Person two... Ooh go on - spill the beans. 
Person one... We're pregnant!!!!
Person two... Are you really...OH MY GAWD!!! I'm so happy for you!!! Ahhhhh.
Person one... Nahhh not really. HAHA fooled you - Happy April fools!!!

Is that funny? Not really.

Getting pregnant is not plain sailing. Fertility problems are not something really spoken about. It's like a taboo, an elephant in the room. A no go area taped off. What if person two had their own secret heartbreaking issues about getting pregnant? If you're lucky and the stars are aligned for you it can take you one time or only a few months then well done. You're lucky. For others it can be a painful process of peeing on ovulation sticks and constantly shoving a thermometer in your mouth every morning to check your basal temperature. It’s a hard job making a human.

When we became pregnant we were merely days from going into our third year of trying for a baby. There were months of tears and upset. The struggle was real and to be honest if you've not been through the struggle yourself... you really DON'T get it. I had friends and family making comments when they just weren't needed ... the comment of just have sex more is really just a bit of a slap in your face when you feel quite down about the situation.

There was also social media to get a grip of. A place where everybody and anybody can share their joys of impending parenthood on the world wide web. Another platform to rub salt in the already painful wounds. To see other people, proud of their grainy pictures of their unborn child - it breaks your heart every time. Obviously you are beyond happy for the owner of said grainy picture of unborn child, but deep down inside you're crying like a crazy lady inside. I have been that crazy lady. Oh yes.

The problem of making pregnancy part of a joke is it is disrespectful to everyone who has ever had the struggle to get those two blue lines. We ourselves had problems, but close family members were going through countless rounds of IVF. Telling them we were having a baby was so hard and scary, but luckily they have now been blessed by IVF twins in recent weeks.

I have previously written about how, out of respect we chose to not announce our pregnancy on Facebook. I'm proud we took this approach and avoided social media.

Now if you're planning to pull a prank, spare a thought for a couple who could be suffering in silence that they cannot conceive, going through IVF or cannot hold onto a little one long enough that they suffer from miscarriages

Thank you and goodnight all.

Angela x

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Quick Easy Biscotti Recipe

I have the sweetest mother-in-law. Since I can remember she's always baked biscotti. She loves to feed them to me and to be honest I could quite frankly eat them all day long. Imagine Homer Simpson and his drooling face - that's me. She always sends me away with a goodie bag of them! Bless her.

If you don't know what biscotti are, they are a kind of 'biscuit' which can also be known as cantuccini, that originate from Italy. Biscotti are usually twice baked making them quite a hard biscuit. I personally don't always bake them twice usually, because I'm too impatient and want them NOW! You can make biscotti how ever you like, just keep the main ingredients the same - I'll highlight the main ones with a *.

I like to double up my recipe to make a shed load of biscuits and if you make too many you can actually freeze them. Winner. Right, let's crack on. Before you get started turn on your oven to gas mark 3 or 180℃ fan.

First, all you need to throw into a large bowl are the dry ingredients which are;
225g/8 oz - Plain flour*
150g/5 oz - Caster sugar*
1/2 teaspoon - Baking powder*
Pinch of Salt*

Once these are combined and mixed together, pop in...
75g/3 oz - Nuts of your choice (pecans, pistachio and almonds work well)
50g/2 oz - Candied peel (I do a mixture of candied peel and glacé cherries)

Now you need to add the wet ingredients. Just make a well in the middle of the mixture.
3 medium eggs* (2 whole eggs and one yolk)
1 teaspoon - Vanilla extract

Mix everything together with a wooden spoon. When you're happy pop the dough on to a oven tray covered in grease proof paper - shape it like a log. Make sure they are reasonably big trays, as the mixture will spread once it heats up.

Set your timer for 45 minutes and go and make yourself busy until the buzzer goes off. When the buzzer on the oven does ring, bring out the tray and check the biscotti are a golden brown. Leaving it on the tray, take a big sharp knife and cut them into slices. Lay them out on the tray and you can then if you wish after cutting them up - put them back in to the oven for 5 to 10 minutes to twice bake them. This will harden the inside of biscuit. You can leave them to cool on the oven tray or pop them on a wire cooling rack.

Like I said above, you can switch up ingredients in the recipe. You can add extras like fennel seeds, orange or lemon zest/juice, you can dribble dark chocolate on them or half dip them in it too. If you don't want to use caster sugar, coconut is a excellent substitute.

I will say at the time I was baking these I did plan to pop pecans in the mixture however, but it turns out they were mouldy. Rather than poison myself I decided to go without and add extra candied peel instead. Problem solved. Et voilĂ .

Now, if biscotti doesn't sound like something you'd be into, (cannot see why) then why not try these short bread biscuits or banana oat cookies which I have made previously.


Angela x

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