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Budgeting, cutting costs and making your money go further is something that the majority aspire to. The UK economy over the past decade has hit many hard with the gap between price rises and wage increases widening, the overall cost of living rocketing and firms downsizing or closing down meaning a loss of jobs.

While the economy does seem to be improving most are still working hard to ensure that they live well within their means in case of being bitten by financial uncertainty in the future. I myself have completely reorganised the way our family finances work as Roy has been made redundant twice in the past year. We are mindful of meal planning, have cut our food budget considerably, have a wealth of fun activities for the kids dreamed up which cost little or nothing and have worked to become a very green family (both cutting energy costs and helping with the environment).

The one set of expenditures which we have struggled with are our transport costs.  Roy drives to another town now for work and so our petrol costs which were negligible before as he often walked to work have jumped up considerably. We’ve also had to take into account the fact that we have more wear and tear on the car to consider so the potential for higher maintenance and repair bills is ever present.

From a fuel point of view we’ve taken advantage of the Tesco Fuel Save scheme which sadly ends in February next year as well as taken steps to reduce our fuel consumption. As far as spares and repairs goes Roy likes to take on some of the work himself, saving himself hundreds of pounds of garage labour costs. Keeping an eye open for vouchers or discounts for places such as Euro Car Parts means that not only does he eliminate labour charges but that he also cuts the costs of parts and equipment.

As I don’t drive myself public transport is something I rely upon quite heavily during the week or through school holidays when Roy is at work and the kids and I fancy a day out. I’ve managed to make real savings using the Family and Friends Railcard, booking in advance and watching for special offers which do of course all add up. To further cut public transport costs I’m considering the idea of us becoming a biking family (don’t laugh!). Look at Wiggle discounts it seems that it might be possible to make real savings off accessories and more associated with biking so we’ll see. First I might need to borrow a bike and see if I can stay on it for more than thirty seconds!
We already walk where possible and fortunately at the moment don’t need to pay for parking at work (Roy) or nearby as everything is again within walking distance.
For all my frugal readers or those wanting to cut back on transport costs what have you got in place to help reduce transport costs? Do share your top tips!

 

Always up for a challenge when it comes to cutting costs!

Always up for a challenge when it comes to cutting costs!

 

Picture credit

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Keeping kids entertained over the summer can cost a small fortune, especially if you have more than one. Working with BettaLiving, the fitted kitchen retailer we were offered the opportunity to turn the tables on expensive summer activities while still enjoying oodles of fun in the hub of the home.

Apparently keeping a child occupied over the summer holiday can cost anywhere between £1000 and £1600 (not in our house it doesn’t, this must be a national average) however we’ve definitely found the summer to be more costly that any other time, especially when the weather is dire. With research showing that on average the number of days it rains in the UK in July is 14, or one in three, having activities planned to keep little ones occupied during wet weather is a must. As it turns out for much of July we were in a heatwave and while we enjoyed some outdoor days, garden fun and the usual fresh air activities there were days when it was simply too hot to be outside and when delicate skin needed a break from the rays!

To keep us going over through the rainy (and the hot) days BettaLiving sent us a #kidsinthekitchen box packed full of activities which we could use to keep the boys occupied. The maximum cost of the box was £50 and the contents….. what fun! Twenty different activities (see more on each here), many which could be used time and time again have not simply been time fillers, they have been fabulous fun activities in their own right.

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Just some of the goodies in the Kids In The Kitchen box!

Research included in the kit also showed that children tend to lose as much as two months worth of skill, or 25% of the school year during the summer. These activities are all based on fun as well as encouraging the retention of these skills and the information supplied came with expert comment from Naomi Richards, author of “The Parent’s Toolkit” on how each activity offer the kids something both fun and skill-based.

Having tested the majority of the activities at least once and still having one or two left to enjoy we can safely say that BettaLiving have hit the nail on the head with this campaign. Not only has each activity been fabulously fun, they have provided hours of skill-based activities which are extremely frugal to say the least. We’ve made ice lollies (and Angel Delight lollies), played indoor ten pin bowling, made marshmallow structures, grown and harvested cress for our sandwiches, decorated spoons and enjoyed making up plays with them and much more. In the last week of the holidays now we still have Weetabix Jenga, pizza making and a volcanic experiment to enjoy.

Have a look at the BettaLiving activities and our photos below, they are sure to give you lots of inspiration for future frugal holidays, half-terms and very day play!
Thanks BettaLiving, we have thoroughly enjoy our Kids in the Kitchen experience!

To keep up with everything else BettaLiving are doing as well as great offers and kitchen design find them on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

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