Sunday, 1 February 2015

January 2015 update. [Jan - 9/31 NoSpendDays]

January is done, so I felt like I should at least pop a monthly update on here.
I wanted to sort of clarify that this really isn't a blog in the sense of what other people blog about, its more of an open diary to myself - and a log to reflect on at the end of the yearly challenge.

So.. I started the year by drawing out a limited amount of £100 a week for all supermarket purchases, that's food, non consumables and fast food. I'm happy to say that I have not had a week where I have had nothing left to pop into my savings jars. Some weeks I had just coins, some weeks I had notes. Part of this years challenge however is to keep that amount a surprise until December 31st.. So I have no idea how much I have saved so far. I am proud to announce that we have not had any take out or fast food at all for over 31 days. The children have not mentioned it - as considering they have attended three birthday parties - where they did have cooked junky type food. They have not missed out on that as such.

I have picked up some reduced stickered items, not many - and the savings from that have not been great, same as coupons. I have had the odd one or two, but nothing great enough to talk about.

I have however started to keep a spending diary for all other things that I am buying. With five birthdays happening this month, that is £50 gone to friends and family, and I begrudgingly paid £1.89 for a coffee that wasn't even that nice (The chat with friends was worth it though!) We have agreed that in future we will all meet at each others houses in rotation, as we could have bought a whole jar of coffee for that price - and we all moaned about the price of the cakes! Shocking consumerism. So savings will be made there, in a better environment too - I wonder if I can convince them to do my ironing!

Onto spend days - this was tough because of the way I have been shopping. I assumed that this figure would be much higher than it was - but I couldn't really start a new category for LowSpendDays v's NoSpendDays.. on a few of the days - I only spent pence, 60p on the one day - just for receipts to enter competitions. Another day 49p for carrots - but they were still spend days.. so.. I only managed 9/31 complete no spend days.

I have some things in storage,
I am still using up the bulk toilet roll I bought in December which I picked up when they were all reduced. I also won a few £2 vouchers on the Spar competition, which I turned into black binbags (That 60p outlay was worth it!) - I have 4 packs of those now from 2 wins.. I have lots of baking ingredients in stock,  and we are still baking our own treats, but I know I do need to bulk shampoo and toothpaste out soon though, so I will be looking for the best deals when Feb kicks in.

I have also won a huge grocery voucher from a twitter competition, but won't be able to fully factor that in until it arrives. That will really have a significant impact on the years totals - and possibly next years too - as I plan to bulk out non consumables with most of it. Hopefully -Il be able to discuss that in my next update. 

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Coupons and Supermarket Loyalty schemes

Sainsbury's -

From April 2015 Sainsbury's will be changing the way Nectar points are given.
They will be changed from the current rate of 2 points for every pound spent - to 1 point for every pound spent (each 1 point is worth 0.5p : 500 points = £2.50). Current rates require a minimum of 500 points for redemption - but this is rumoured to change to 1000. In addition Sainsbury's will no longer be awarding points to customers who re-use bags as an incentive - and will start charging fpr bags at the checkout. So remember to take your own. Nectar have stated that point doubling events will take place through the year.

Sainsbury's have also launched an online COUPON site - where you can add up to 5 virtual coupons to a shopping basket, based on items you buy in store. This automatically gets processed when you use your card (no printing required).
Register for the Sainsbury's online coupons website here

Nectar have also launched a 'Nectar Hive' - which acts like a savings account for your nectar points. You transfer them into the hive - which gets weekly interest added, at a rate of 10% (current) - Log into your nectar account and access the HIVE through this weblink -

Sainsbury's have also changed their Brand Match scheme, where branded products are compared against ASDA only now (Not Tesco & Morrissons), this means you only get a voucher off your next shop if the branded products you have purchased are cheaper in ASDA. Brand Match coupons can be redeemed on any transaction, including the same day as you have received them. You also need to have purchased 10 different  products with at least one comparable product to qualify.

Keep your eye out for the in store FREE Sainsburys magazine which sometimes contains coupons.

Asda -
Asda's Price Guarantee requires to you have internet access and a printer at your disposal. Enter the details of your shopping here -
this will compare prices against Tescos, Morrisons and Sainsburys. If your shopping was more expensive in ASDA - they will refund the value plus 10% in form of a coupon for you to print.

You need to wait three hours after you have purchased items before you can upload your details to the Asda Price Guarantee website - You also need to have purchased 10 different comparable items to qualify.
Keep your eye out for the in store FREE ASDA magazine which sometimes contains coupons.

Tesco -
Tesco's price promise is compared against Asda, Sainsbury's and Morrison's. A voucher (up to the value of £10) will be printed if your shop was more expensive in store. You also need to have purchased 10 different items with at least one comparable to qualify. This coupon is not redeemable on the day of printing however, and requires you to wait until the next day to use it.

Tesco Clubcard also has a lot of schemes operating at various times through the year. They award 1 point for every £1 spent - at a value of 1p per point. (500 points = £5.00) Register your card ASAP - and they send coupons through to your door, of which you can keep, spend or exchange online or in store when they 'Boost deals'

There is also an online coupon section for printable coupons too - check out if you have any ready for printing as often as you can. For more information on rewards and offers login at;

Keep your eye out for the in store FREE TESCO magazine which sometimes contains coupons.


Morrison's Match and More card scheme goes one step further than the companies above,  as they compare with Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury's as well as Lidl and Aldi!
You need to spend £15 or more in one transaction, but the comparison is done on the whole shop - not just branded items. This still requires at least one comparable product. (Some weighed items may not compare, such as loose bananas etc)

For a 1p difference they add 10 points
For a £1 difference, they add 1000 points

5000 points = £5.00 voucher to spend in store. There are also bonus match and more points available on certain products in store, keep your eye out whilst shopping for these bonus items.

Sign up for your Match and More card online here -

Register here - for a free swap pack,. containing useful information on sugar swaps as well as brand item coupons.

Daily mail coupons (Online - require printer)

UK Couponing blog - updated by Holly. (requires printer)

Always read the terms and conditions on the coupons and only attempt to use them as money off the exact product listed.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

NSD's and 2015 targets

Since my last post, I immediately embarked on setting up the structure for my 2015 resolution, went through all my finances, and shredded all of 2014's bills with a fresh start planned.

My target for 2015 is then -

To reduce the cost of the weekly shop and to keep it below £100 a week. (For a family of 5)
This covers - all food / grocery purchases
non consumables, washing powder, shower gel, soaps etc..
AND fast food for the family.

In 2013, I think there were occasions where I paid for fast food separately, when relatives came to visit etc.. this year - it is all inclusive.

So to make sure I am able to maintain this, I am operating a two purse system - and not collecting weekly totals for blog updates - Instead I am going to let it run all year and see what I get left over on New Years Eve.

Each week I will withdraw the cash for that weeks shopping, anything left over will go into my second purse. When that amount exceeds £50 - I will transfer the cash to a savings account, so I am not tempted to spend it.

This should be a relatively easy challenge, but I also want to try and change the way I shop - and have a notable amount of no spend days (NSDs) -

A no spend day can mean different things to different people, Some include household bills / general spending in this due to personal circumstances and saving goals, but for 2015 - I will only be extending this to food shopping and that particular budget.
This will be something I am tallying in my diary, so I can set myself a target and beat it next year,

I am currently on 3/10 no spend days this year so far.
I am shopping daily, and rotating 4 nectar cards to try and obtain coupons - but I am only shopping at Lidl and Sainsburys which are within arms reach to me, I have swapped from the weekly shop system to this smaller - late night system looking for reduced sticker items to help bring down the cost of meat, fruit and veg, and plan to extend this back to Tesco when I can justify using the car - as that is additional petrol costs. (if i go past it, I will drop in.)

The issue I am having however is between a NSD and bargain hunt shopping top up type shops. If I go and look for bargains and spot nothing I could use, I have to ensure I am not tempted to buy something just because it is on offer, we gained weight in 2013 because of all the extra puddings and cakes I kept buying. So deciding not to go out, and have a full restricted no spend day means I could lose out on something that could reduce this weeks budget, so its kind of a conflicting task for me.
I did go over last night, spot nothing and come home, but I had already bought strawberries and bread, making it a spend day.

I'm pretty much ending week 2 and I am under budget but not saving that much as I am bulking out the non consumables when they are on offer.
I am well stocked up on lunch box bits, toilet rolls and shampoo too, and also found quite a few baking products reduced to 20p each in Sainsbury's from the Christmas stock, I wont be buying ANY cake for at least 6-8 weeks in light of this, and we will be regularly baking batches once a week

I am also going to be comparing Poundland prices and B&M too against what I would normally buy to see if it is any cheaper. We have also been trying to figure out if the time and effort put into making biscuits is worth it, considering how cheap you can get them from Lidls. I don't want this challenge to impact us that much, especially my time - as I need to keep my weekdays free for study when the children are at school, between work shifts.

I have also started the penny jar again, all 1p and 2p coins are going in there - and that will be opened to cover Christmas treats, I am looking forward to that post already.

happy shopping and savvy saving x

Friday, 2 January 2015

2014 came and went before I even posted

Today has been the first time in a while where reality has kicked in, and prompted me to stop everything I am doing, and reflect on life - and how fragile it is.

After loading my old laptop to look at some photos of my family, I discovered this blog link in the bookmarks, and have sat for a while reflecting my 2013 project & new years resolution which I stuck to every day with amazing results.

I didn't really have a resolution for 2014, but I did pass my driving test, which every penny of my 2013 savings went towards. Its amazing just how much happened in our lives during 2014, and I regret that I didn't leave some sort of online update to look back on.

In 2013 - alongside the couponing I had access to the savings because I ran a two purse system for many months, drawing out a set amount of cash for groceries every week - popping everything spare onto a second purse (well a large coffee jar to be exact) so I could watch the savings grow.

My good intentions went right out of the window in 2014 however, and all the hard work I had achieved in 2013 slipped through my fingers. I fell back on bad habits of using debit cards for purchases, and I gave up tracking the finances weekly in spreadsheets.

In my defense, I did do a monthly total in and total out, which I will continue in 2015.. but over the next week, I may decide upon a new 'battle plan' for 2015 - especially as we may be looking to move later in the summer.

When I browse MSE - O/S I feel great to be part of a community that supports each other in saving, managing money and making do - rather than throwing away. The more I study with the OU, the more I read evidence about consumer driven societies and feel guilty at all the random things that we have around us at home, that are not essentials. Stuff that gathers dust, but you just dont want to part with - for some silly non sentimental reason.

So part of my plan will be maybe to de-clutter, recycle and donate as much as I can - as well as maybe participating in another shopping budget challenge in 2015 - one that is not too time demanding as what I got involved in back in 2013. (I'm still using deodorant and shower gel that I stockpiled back then too, I have around 8 left now!)

Maybe keep an eye out for posts in the future if you are interested in my progress.

Wishing you a wonderful and prosperous 2015

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

2013 - Final shopping totals

No update for a while, but that doesn't mean I gave up on monitoring and working on the shopping challenge, However with the increased interest in couponing, I pretty much stopped using them after Oct/Nov's disasters and refusals from local stores. With more and more people using them to try and save money, then term 'coupon abuse' was thrown around way too much by staff - so I no longer try to redeem coupons that are printed from the internet.

Anyway - Totals from weeks 40+

41 - 90.73
42 - 85.21
43 - 93.00
44 - 93.00
Total 361.94

45 - 96.5
46 - 97.63
47 - 77.38
48 - 69.14
Total 369.14

49 - 79.55
50 - 88.21
51 - 66.85
52 - 76.00
Total 310.61

Making the entire year

BUDGET -£5200
SPENT - £4462.76
SAVINGS - £737.24

Left - Normal purchases / Right - Food shopping for a year

So, in the savings area alone - I have managed to pull back £730 - which I plunged straight into my driving lessons. My test is due in the new year, so I aim to pass.

I know I could make more savings, by simply shopping around at different stores, bulk buying etc.. but time constraints are really nipping at my heels. So this sizeable saving is something I am happy to have achieved. 

My best tip - is to try and grab the reduced items that appear in stores at the end of the evening (fruit,veg,meat etc). It can make a real impact on your pocket over time.

At present I am still considering what will be my 2014 challenge. Possibly a way of reorganising my time, as I am always so busy.. or at least - I feel like I am always busy.

This is the first year though, that I have stuck to a new years resolution, and achieved it, so pat on the back for me! :)

 Happy New Year all x

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Food Budget Task - weeks 37-40

This month is turning out to be the busiest month of the year and we are only two weeks into it.

My Open University course has started again, this time its my first ever level 3 module - and already has been very heavy going due to the huge amount of content I have to cover. In addition to this I am ramping up my driving lesson's (which I really should be enjoying by now) to four hours a week, as my test is looming at the end of the month. In addition to this my community group work is also heading towards our first ever large scale community and partnerships project - a local park clean up and renovation.. and I am about to undertake further training at CAB where I volunteer..
All this on top of a busy family life, where school activities, meetings and assembly's eat into study time.. laundry, housework.. the shopping appears to be taking one of the last priority slots now - especially as I have not been sleeping very well at all - because the children have been ill and restless.

Phew.... just.. counting to ten is one of my favourite things to do currently... ARGH!!

So anyway, down to business.
Week 37 - £88.91
Week 38 - £91.61
Week 39 - £85.31
Week 40 - £96.26

Total - £361.70

Twenty pound up on last months £342.70 - but still under the £400 4 weekly budget.

I have not been participating in any sort of couponing at all, and the time I used to spend reading money saving threads / forums has gone completely - as time is running away from me.
I am not even finding time to enjoy my hobby as much as normal, which isn't usually an issue - but I'm in that period where I am feeling numb from everything being thrown at me. The only place I can get five minutes solace is in the shower - and I am firmly back on the coffee! Tea just didn't quite cut it.

I am still baking my own cakes and piped biscuits, these I have down to an art now - thanks to a mixer my gran gave me, but the money I am saving is just pence in the grand scheme of things. I have a good larder stock, so maybe over time these pennies will add up and be a little more significant to notice. Double nectar points are a welcomed bonus - as they are running a promotion at Sainsbury's too.

Right now, money isn't an immediate issue -  I just wish I had more free time.
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Friday, 4 October 2013

Twitter and the new notification system


With all the confusion that appears to be raised in regards to the new notification system on twitter I felt, I should try to explain what is happening for those who are unhappy about the sudden and un-welcomed change.

Before I start, I have to outline the difference between a tweet and a retweet for those who are still unsure - this will help later on

 A Tweet is a status broadcast by a person on twitter - See below

 A retweet - is the action taken when you click the RT button on a tweet. See below

This status by @tetley_teafolk has been RETWEETED by me (as indicated by the green arrow in the top corner)


As you know RETWEETING and TWEETING means those messages are displayed in your own timeline for others to see.
Therefore, Its quite possible that over time other people have spotted you enter competitions, and have added you as a friend on twitter (or to a list)
This way when you RETWEET a competition tweet, it appears in their home feed, (or list feed) so they can also click RETWEET to enter the competition too.
Up until now, this has not been an issue until Twitter changed the notification system.
Now, if someone RETWEETS a COMPETITION TWEET that YOU have RETWEETED - This appears in your notifications..



This has caused a large number of people who enter competitions to freak out, thinking they have had entries invalidated by others who are Retweeting these.

In fact this notification serves no purpose other than to tell YOU that someone has simply RETWEETED  a COMPETITION TWEET that you have RETWEETED.

* No one is being disqualified,

*  Both you and the other person who has RETWEETED that company status has a VALID entry (Permitting they have followed all instructions, such as following etc) so DON'T PANIC.

*If you UN-RETWEET or cancel your entry, the other person will still have a valid entry - it will not delete their entry, as by clicking your RETWEET of the COMPANY TWEET - they actually RETWEETED the COMPANY TWEET - but twitter notified to let you know that they have done it. 

In my opinion, its a useless feature, and only serves to show me who has been looking at my wall and entering competitions that I have, which I am more than happy to have happen.

There is a slight difference however, when you have others RETWEET your own personal tweets - Some people who enter competitions choose to copy and paste the text to gain an entry like this -

I have copied and pasted the text above, to gain an entry into the @nectar prize draw.
Sometimes other people will RETWEET this - thinking they will gain an entry into the competition.
In some cases, superstitions have suggested this action may invalidate my entry - especially if the competition rules say strictly one tweet per person, so if you are worried about this you can rectify this situation.
If this happens (especially if it is a contest that required a limerick or picture entry), I simply copy the competition entry text - delete my original tweet and tweet it again.
This action deletes my tweet that the other person has RETWEETED.
Its also been noted that in the past, people have won by RETWEETING other peoples personal tweets - where they have been copied and pasted or generated via apps such as Twitninja or Twitaculous.

Therefore... With no real system in place for picking winners in twitter, the winner selection process for 99% of competitions is very hit and miss - but well worth the time as a lot of great promotions run there.

I hope this helps some of you who are freaking out at the fact others are RETWEETING YOUR CONTEST RETWEETS...
You are still entered, and so are they - so wish them luck :)