A Budget and Two Boys

The lovelies at MoneySupermarket.com set me a challenge. I was given £100 and asked to see how much I could get out of it in terms of fun and activities with the boys, over the period of seven days. This challenge is based on budgeting, saving for holidays and events and to see, realistically, how far your money can stretch during the holidays which are significantly more costly than term time in relation to days outs and keeping people occupied. This is a great challenge in terms of making us think about how we manage our money.

The rules of the challenge were for me to set so I decided to include anything bought for the boys, any entrance fees / tickets and treats that were purely for the boys.

This is what we did with our £100.

1. Bought a loaf of reduce bread from Tesco for 50p and fed the duck.

2. Bought these fabulous cards from our local bookshop and have used them to find and identify bugs and beasties on walks, in the garden and even in the park (Cost £4.99).


3. Went to the circus – Kieran’s ticket was £8. His drink and popcorn from the flamboyantly dressed vendor carrying treats to people waiting for the show to start cost…. £6! (Note to self, bring own snacks next time). We didn’t buy the flashing wand, spinny thing or noise maker we were offered though – at £4.50 each)

4. We opened a bakery shop! We spent £13.87 on these ingredients and more, baked (tested a lot) and then Kieran sold cakes to Taylor, Daddy and I, who paid in left over sultanas – and then we stuffed ourselves!

5. We went to Stump Cross Caverns (£4.50 for Kieran to get in and £1.50 for a badge for his collection)

6. Brimham Rocks – a full day out in the sunshine courtesy of the National Trust! We did buy an ice-cream for the boys (£4.50!!) and another badge for the collection (£1).

Taylor enjoying the great outdoors!

7. Oh… and we bought bubbles for blowing off hills and rocks! (70p – gift shop prices, will be better prepared next time).

8. We bought a kite (£9.99) and have enjoyed hours of fun!! Turns out my 6yr old is much better at kite flying that I am.

9. We went to a car boot sale that we hadn’t visited before (Wiggington nr York – for my local readers – it is fantastic!). Kieran spent  £5 on a HUGE box full of soldiers, tanks, RAF planes and the like which have been great fun during the wetter days!
Taylor bought (with help) 2 x DVDs (£2.50 total) and an In The Night Garden Noisy Book (soon to be “lost”) for £1. This kept them both amused for a while.


Just some of the boot sale bargains arranged carefully (and some flung all over as they were blown up) in Kieran’s room.

10. We stocked up on art and craft “stuff” and generally just made a mess and laughed like lunatics while we did it. Taylor had great fun painting (washable paint my behind!). (£5.75)

This is me apparently. I think it’s a good likeness. Not sure about the green though.

11. We went on a train ride! It cost £15 return (would have cost less if I hadn’t forgotten to renew our Family & Friends railcard!) and had a great day out mooching around, seeing the sites, and playing in new playgrounds that were different to our own. We took a picnic too so it was a fairly cheap day out of you discard to rail tickets.

12. This left us with £15.20 on the Sunday evening. So we got a delivery from the local pizza place as a treat with it (there was actually 10p left over so we’ve put it in the “spends” car for next week!).

A great week packed full of fun and activities, indoors and out for less than £100! Mingled in with these activities were lots of free fun things such as running around the park, making cardboard boxes into vehicles and dens and playing football in the garden. Really and truthfully, that £100 could have stretched over two weeks however our challenge was for a week, and as we were all off school / work and what not at the same time we thought we’d have a week to remember.

The school holidays are more expensive than term-time, in food if nothing else, however this exercise has taught me that with some planning and by saving a little in advance, there is no reason why we can’t have a fantastic time without blowing the budget. We are big fans of saving up for things before we get them and will continue to do this for future holidays, for other events and of course for Xmas! It is amazing how far you can make a sum of money go when you have saved it up, have in your hand and can see it disappearing as you spend it!

Thanks to MoneySupermarket.com for asking us to take part in this challenge. We have had a fabulous time!

*MoneySupermarket gave us £100 to use for this challenge. 

Using pre-paid debit cards for budgeting

I posted previously about how the lovelies from Moneysupermarket had offered to send me a pre-paid Mastercard topped up with £100 to use for what I wanted, as long as everything I bought was under RRP. Obviously I wasn’t going to say no!
I decided to use the funds as my budget for tarting up my living room and my mission is complete. Not only do I have some lovely new and shiny items in my living room but I also have first hand experience of using one of these cards.

The card I was sent was a Freedom Prepaid Mastercard.

About pre-paid cards.
Despite coming from Mastercard and similar companies, these cards have no credit facility and are not linked to your bank account. They are a card that can be topped up online, via bank transfer, at the Post Office and at selected Pay Points.

Where can you use pre-paid cards?
You can use these cards pretty much anywhere you would use a normal debit card. You get your own pin number for use in shops, and the cards have the same information as you would find on a bank card so can be used online. I even added my card to eBay and used it without any problems.
You can also withdraw cash from your card at any ATM using your pin number.

There are many prepaid cards on the market and they all have different fees.

For the purpose of this campaign I chose the Pay As You Go option. Clearly if you use a card regularly for multiple purchases it is better to pay a monthly fee but for a situation like this, where you are setting a budget to do something i.e. a project or perhaps Xmas shopping, the PAYG option is probably best.

Ease of Use
I found the card very easy to use. The only issue I had was with one retailer where the name and billing address didn’t quite add up but I can’t blame the retailer or the card for this in truth, it was a circumstance of having a card registered by someone else and sent out rather than getting my own and registering it in my name. The one thing that is worth mentioning is that when this retailer put the transaction through again I was charged an additional transaction fee.

How can you keep track of what you have spent?
It is easy to check your ongoing balance online. I found that the balance was updated pretty much instantly after anything was spent and it didn’t take long for an itemised summary of what I’d spent, where and any transaction fees to be updated.

Are they worth using?
I would say absolutely yes. I am something of an interior design tart and find it easy to get carried away with beautiful things. Having my budget separate to my own account meant that I was much more careful with the spending, more aware of what I had spent and couldn’t “accidentally” go over budget. For a project such as a room makeover, new clothes, Christmas shopping and in fact anything that you want to budget for and not be able to easily dip into the savings or bank account (like many can do when putting money aside in an account) it is an ideal solution.

And the makeover?
You’ll have to wait until I have everything properly put together and tarted up to see it all so you can look forward to another interior design post but from my £100 I managed to get new curtains (thanks to CB Furnishings, Thirsk), 6 gorgeous coordinating cushions (From TerryFabrics who I have to say have fantastic customer service skills) and a lovely print from Unique Home Designs Framestore’s Ebay shop. All were very easy to deal with, provided great service and had items under RRP (or Best Price on eBay) so fitted in perfectly with this budget challenge.

Thanks to Moneysupermarket for asking me to run this mini-makeover challenge. Not only have I had enormous fun, I have learnt a lot.

A sneaky peak!