Pinch and a Punch, it’s the first of the month!

“Pinch and a Punch, it’s the first of the month!” Let’s face it you will still hear someone say that or at least comment when it’s the first of the month.

Use it to act as a reminder to do those regular checks and services that are so easy to forget – such as cleaning out your washing machine and dishwasher,  health checking for lumps on yourself and giving the car a maintenance check.

Here’s a few that a quick and easy to do:

Dishwasher put a cup of white vinegar on the bottom rack of your dishwasher on a hot wash to clean and freshen the insides.

Washing Machine do a hot wash with half bag soda crystals to prevent limescale build up, and a squirt of white vinegar in the soap drawer.  This will prevent build up of washing detergents in your pipes and stop smells.  Also leave the door ajar when not in use to stop any mould forming on the seal.

Cars If you don’t do a lot of mileage it’s easy to forget but make sure you check tyre pressures, oil, water and battery levels.

Health Be sure to check for lumps in your bumps, men and ladies. It’s quick and easy to do in the shower and early detection can often result in far more successful outcomes.

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How to get FREE books, music and films legally

Like many people I tend to read most of my books on Kindle and listen to music on my Ipod, so I now buy Ebooks and mp3s.  I have been an Amazon Prime customer for a couple of years now and use it not only for free deliveries but for the TV programmes and photo storage. Most of the time we don’t need a next day delivery and in the last year we found out that there is a “no rush” option which earns you a £1 credit to use against digital music, books and films. Many people aren’t aware of this service so I thought I’d share.

If you already have Prime, add your shopping items to the basket as normal. You will see that it automatically defaults to next day delivery.

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Choose the FREE No-Rush Delivery option. You will then see a notification under your Order Summary that you have a No Rush Reward. Once your item has been dispatched you will get an email entitled Benefit Confirmation of O/N …… In this email you will see an expiry date for the offer (several months long but save your email to keep track of  it). You can use these to get money off, or build up your credits to get free, digital books, music and films. I haven’t had to pay for music or books for over a year now!

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Hope this helps if you are already an Amazon customer and didn’t know of the service. Check out some of my book recommendations if you’re a lover of chic lit.

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How to survive a car boot sale

For years I have loved mooching around a car boot sale on a Sunday morning, but when it comes to selling at them it can be a different matter. It can be quite stressful if you’re not prepared. I usually do one or two a year. Here are a few tips for surviving the car boot seller experience:

Firstly

  • Ask around locally for recommendations of the best sale to do and find out the time you actually need to arrive rather than the advertised time. Some allow you to set up before buyers come in and at others it is a bit of a free for all.
  • Check out the car boot first to see how much space you get and plan your wares accordingly.
  • Enlist a helper. You will need someone to help you serve and keep an eye on the stall, especially when unpacking or if you have to nip to the loo.
  • Get/borrow a couple of pasting tables, a ground sheet and clothes rail.

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In preparation

  • Get together a cash float with a quantity of £5, £1 and 50p.
  • Take a packed lunch and lots of drinks and snacks in a cool bag.
  • Pack sunscreen, sunglasses, hat if needed or a plastic cover if showers possible
  • A pen, pad, post its, scissors and tape can come in handy.
  • Take a money bag/bum bag to keep your cash on you.
  • When packing your car, leave the tables, clothes rack and plastic sheeting til last so they are first out of the car.

Pricing

  • Some people don’t price and just allow the public to ask. I personally feel this limits sales as some buyers don’t like to ask and it can put the seller under pressure if they haven’t prepared prices in their head.
  • Price easily – My lowest price is 50p, cheaper items I will do say 4 for £1 to save messing about with small change.
  • Price realistically – it can be tricky getting prices right as people will haggle but you don’t want to price too high that people won’t even bother. Price to sell at an amount you and buyers will be happy with (I have posted some standard selling prices for popular items below).
  • You might be better off with higher value items on Ebay or Facebook selling groups.
  • Group items of the same price in a tray or box and write on the box “50p each” but make sure each item is still viewable
  •  Don’t price each item with a sticky label or write on it directly  because a) you might want to lower it later and b) it looks horrible and puts buyers off, especially with new items
  • Use fluorescent star cards or small post it notes with the price marked on it, then you can easily change if need be

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How to display

  • Clothes sell better on a clothes rail. Write the price and size on the coat hanger
  • Group similar items together
  • Make sure sizes are clearly visable if necessary eg bedding, rugs, etc
  • Some people cover the tables with tablecloths and make it all look nice (price everything if you do this or people might think you look like a dealer and that you’ll be expensive)
  • Some put everything in boxes on the floor and let you rummage (lots of people won’t be bothered to look unless you can clearly see what’s in the boxes).
  • I try to find that balance and put items in shallow boxes on top of the table. That way I group and price items. It’s also very easy to set up as you can take them straight out of the car and onto the table. Then remove the boxes as more items sell.

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On the day

  • “Dealers” will be in your boot as soon as you arrive. Be firm and tell them to come back when you are set up.
  • Don’t be afraid to say that you don’t have change for someone who tries to give you a £20 for a 50p item.
  • Lots of people will haggle, it can be fun to negotiate a price but be firm if you don’t want to sell at their price and tell them to put it back if not interested.
  • Watch out for thieves and keep your car locked.
  • Bags – now that supermarkets no longer give free bags it’s not expected to give them out at car boots although I do tend to take some small bags for little items, i.e. if someone buys a bundle of toiletries.
  • Pack up when you’re ready. Some sellers leave very early and others stay to the bitter end as you can make quite a few last minute sales.

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Below are some prices of popular items that people sell at car boot sales. I have given a range between standard selling price and achieveable for items that are in very good condition. Bear in mind this is for regular/chart items in the South of England – designer clothing, cult cds/dvds/books/vinyl etc will fetch more. I take the attitude that I don’t need it and don’t want to go back home with it so it’s better to sell for something, but at the same time I would rather give it away that sell for pennies.

Kid’s books 10p-£1
Adult paperbacks 10p-50p
Adult hardbacks 50p-£1
Jigsaws £1
Games £1-£2
Dvd films 50p-£1
Cds 20p-50p
Tshirts 50p-£1
Dresses £1-£2
Hoodies/Cardis £1-£2
Jeans and trousers £1-£2
Jackets £2-£5
Crockery/glasswear 20p-50p
Everyday ornaments 50p-£2
Fashion jewellery £1
Duvet covers £2-3
Cushions £1
Throws £2-3
Rugs £10-£20
Large Mirrors £5-10
Large modern pictures and canvases £3-6
New/almost new toiletries £1

Generally gold/silver jewellery, watches, perfumes, designer clothing, gadgets, and household items all sell quickly. All new items sell well for between 25%-33% rrp and just because it’s old doesn’t mean it’s vintage and will sell for lots of money.

Most of all enjoy watching your unwanted items turn into cash. Most people are really nice and easy to deal with.

If you like upcycling your car boot buys you might like to check out my DIY, Arts & Crafts section.

(Hopefully you might be able to borrow the things you need like a pasting table, clothes rail, etc, but if you need stuff like a tarpaulin, plastic sheeting or a money belt you can buy them really cheap on Amazon.

Let me know of your car boot successes and disasters.

 

How to be a Savvy Shopper – my Complete Guide to Couponing, Cashback & Loyalty Cards

My complete guide to saving money on your shopping

There are four main ways to save money on your shopping and they are: couponing, cashback, loyalty cards and being a savvy shopper.  Below I have gone into more detail of how to get the best deals.

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COUPONING – The UK is never going to compete with the USA in the likes of Extreme Couponing and over the last couple of years it has been harder to get and exchange coupons, but there are still a few sites that you can sign up to to receive printable coupons from.  If you are going to sign up for coupons and offers I would advise you to set up a special email address just to use for that purpose as there is a strong possibility that you will get spammed. This is known as an alias email. (The companies listed below only tend to email you with offers but there are lots that don’t)

* Sign up for monthly newsletter for coupons & sometimes FREE products from John West, Princes, New Covent Garden Soup Co, and family restaurants such as Toby, Harvester, etc. Check out your favourite brands on social media they will often link to coupons and special offers for their products.

* Sign up and log in to print off coupons for toiletries, household & healthcare from Caring Everyday and Supersavvyme

*Tesco, Waitrose, Sainsburys, Co-op and Morrisons sometimes give you coupons printed out with your receipt.

Always check dates and terms of coupons – sometimes one per transaction, sometimes one per product, some only valid in certain stores. Use Google to search out coupons and couponing sites. There are hundreds out there, just find one you like the feel of, and don’t necessarily go for the biggest well known page,often the smaller pages are better.

Remember if you usually buy a Supermarket own brand it can still be cheaper to do that rather than buy a branded product with a coupon. Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s a bargain just because you have a coupon.

Currently (11 March) you can get free Oppo luxury ice cream by applying for a £2 postal coupon HERE and using it in conjunction with the £2 cashback on Quidco (see below). Whilst this offer won’t last long there is often offers like this, and if you don’t like the item it’s great to be able to donate them to the Foodbank or homeless shelter.

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CASHBACK  – There are a handful of apps for getting cashback on your grocery shopping but only two (Clicksnap & Snap and Save) that are available for desktop computers as well as mobile apps.

I signed up to Quidco and TopCashBack after reading the recommendation from Martin Lewis but wish I had done it sooner as within days I was earning cashback on all sorts.

The first section I used was for my grocery shopping (ClickSnap on Quidco & Snap and Save on Topcashback). Each week there are a selection of offers where you buy the item, upload a photograph of your receipt and then the money specified goes into your account. Often you can get a refund for the entire purchase price.

More free cashback can be obtained by getting insurance quotes, car sales and even signing up to online dating agencies with no purchase needed. You can then start to use the sites for all your online purchases.

Basically they work a bit like a search engine. Eg if you are ordering a new bathroom suite from B&Q you log in to either cashback site, type in B&Q and if offers you say 3% back against your purchase within a specified time period. You are then taken directly to the B&Q website and you order as normal. The cashback is later paid into your account.

There are hundreds of top retailers registered with them. You can even book hotel rooms, flights, car hire, insurance, boiler repairs, etc. There is a potential to earn £100s back each year just from buying things you would normally buy from the companies you would normally buy from.

Each site offers two types of account a free one or premium (the latter costs £5 a year but gives you higher cashback rates). I opted for free accounts on both to start with. Once you sign up you can be paid once you’ve earnt over £1 either by BACS, Paypal or in vouchers for stores which give you an additional bonus too. TopCashBack tends to give a slightly higher rate of cashback but check both as they run offers at different times.

Then all you have to do is get into the habit of logging in to your account before you make any purchase and check the offers before you shop. Be sure to clear cookies before you browse/purchase.  Then once you see how good it is you can start recommending your friends and family (each family member can have an account as long as you have separate bank or paypal accounts). You can get a referral code and earn even more once your friends sign up through that link (once they have earnt £10).  Please sign up via my links below. In a year and a half I have earnt over £400 for a family of 4 from my grocery shopping, insurance quotes and purchases, RAC and booking my holiday.

Quidco/ClickSnap Sign Up

TopCashBack/Snap & Save Sign Up

There are other mobile apps for grocery shopping cashback such as CheckoutSmart, Greenjinn and Shopmium but I have not used these before.

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LOYALTY CARDS – I used to be loyal to Asda but over the years I have found that it actually pays to be disloyal as the other supermarkets will send you coupons for money off a shop, whereas regular shoppers don’t seem to receive them as often. It is obviously to entice you into their stores but by using these coupons and buying things that are on offer you can still come out on top, even if the supermarket is generally more expensive than you usual store.  Many stores now have cards and schemes and I’ve listed below a few that are worth having:

Asda Price guarantee – no loyalty card but if you enter details from your till receipt online and they are not 10% cheaper they will give you a voucher for the difference

Boots – free magazine and personalised offers where you can choose extra points against certain products, they will sometimes send additional vouchers

Co-op – get back 5% back on own brand products

Debenhams Beauty Card – free trial products every month

John Lewis – free hot drink and cake 3 times a year and special events

Ikea – Special offers plus free product insurance against damage on the way home for your purchases.

Morrisons – More card that accumulates points as you spend on your groceries and petrol then gives you a £5 voucher to spend in store once you reach so many points.

Sainsburys – Nectar card that can also be used at BP garages, Ebay, British Gas and more.

Superdrug – Free birthday treats, special offers, free online deliveries

Tesco Clubcard – Can also be used at Esso garages. Earn points against your shopping redeemable against your shopping or for days out.

Waitrose – Free tea/coffee, magazine, newspaper (against a £10 spend)

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SAVVY SHOPPING – It might take a bit of leg work to start off but once you become a Savvy Shopper it becomes second nature and you can save yourself so much money each year.

*Buy things out of season (eg all your Xmas things in January, Luggage, Suncream & Garden items at the end of Summer)

*Stock up on things such as soap powder, deodrants, toilet rolls, shower gels, can drinks, cereals and snack bars, etc when they are on half price or multibuy offers. Use Mysupermarket to check where is cheapest.

*Combine coupons with cashback and shop offers to get free/very cheap products

*Buy at carboots, Ebay and local Facebook selling groups.  You can often find new items not just second hand.

*Join Frugal and Moneysaving groups to pick up even more tips

 I originally wrote this blog over 3 years ago but decided to bring it up to date and republish it as I have more followers now.  

You might also like to read my blog on giving to charity for free or on a budget which uses some of these tips and more.

If you like my tips, please do follow on WordPressTwitter or Facebook Make sure you tick “get notifications” on Facebook. Shares and reposts are gratefully received. Thanks for looking.

How to renew your car and house insurance as cheaply as possible

Unfortunately, there is no reward for loyalty when it comes to renewing your car or house insurance and your premium will usually rise considerably each year if you stay with the same company. It is time consuming, but with a bit of work, there are big savings to be made.

Martin Lewis of Money Saving Expert advises using the 4 price comparison websites followed by Aviva and Direct Line. If you have a high end insurance quote it’s worth spending the time to do this as you can save £100s. If your insurance is relatively cheap to start with you may not think it’s worth spending a couple of hours to save £10 or £20, so just check one or two.

Firstly I would suggest getting together all the details needed for your quotes. It’s a good idea to write this down and keep it in a file with all your car paperwork for future years.

Personal details and registration number
Date of vehicle purchase
All personal details of any named drivers
Date of passing test of all drivers
How many years NCD of all drivers
All dates and prices of previous claims of all drivers on the policy
All dates and codes of driving offences of all drivers on the policy

Then start searching. Once you’ve got your first quote you can play around a little with job description, additional drivers, excesses, extras offered, etc. Adding a named driver even if they have their own insurance and rarely drive your vehicle, can reduce the premium depending on their driving history and job title.

Once you’ve found your best price, look on Quidco or Topcashback (links below) to see if they have any cashback deals with that insurer. THEN ring your current insurer and tell them what you can get your insurance for elsewhere, many will match it to not lose your custom. This will also save you the aggravation of having to get proof or your No Claims Discount.

If you don’t think you can be bothered to do all that, look what we’ve just saved on our renewals this week:

My husband’s van insurance – saving for 2018:  £850 

2017 price £440
2018 renewal quote from current insurer £1350
(he had an at fault claim earlier in the year)

He looked at 3 comparison sites and Direct Line (all between £700-800) then Aviva.  Aviva came in at £550 and we claimed £65 cashback from Quidco so paid less than £500 for this year’s insurance.

My car insurance – saving for 2018: £53

2017 price £250
2018 renewal quote from current insurer £268

I looked at 2 comparison sites both coming in at around £230. I called my current insurance company who happily requoted a cheaper price of £215 and didn’t have to mess about getting proof on NCD to a new insurer.

This can be applied to house insurance, boiler cover and any sort of annual policy. Always check out Quidco and Topcashback (be sure to clear cookies before you make your purchase so that it tracks).

I’d love to hear what savings you’ve made.

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How to cover up borrowed lights/interior windows above doors easily and cheaply.

Many houses that were built in the 1970s had windows built in above the door frames to add more light into dark hallways. These were known as borrowed lights or sometimes fanlights depending on what part of the country you come from. They are effective in the daytime but irritating at night as the other bedroom lights shine through.

I quizzed my neighbours to see if anyone else had blocked their windows up and their responses ranged from a professional board up job using a carpenter, to covering with emulsion or gloss, fabric, window black out film for cars, Fablon and even a black bin liner! I decided that the quickest and most cost effective way was to use good old fashioned sticky back plastic, Fablon which is seeing something of a revival and now known as D C Fix.

All it took was a quick wipe over of  the window and frame, measure up, then cut the plastic to size using the square grid on the back of the paper as  a guide to ensure straight lines. It’s quick easy to apply, but smooth out with an old credit card or store card. 100% effective. We used black but available in a multitude of colours and patterns.

Currently on sale in Wilkos for £3.50 a roll which will do 2 windows with some left over. Large rolls on Ebay.

Before:
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After:

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