Monday, 23 March 2015

A Few Important Tips When Shopping On Finance

Who doesn't love to shop? I know I do! As a Stay at Home Mum though having an unlimited shopping budget is somewhat of a dream. Fortunately, there is a way to spend without having to pay for it straight away. There are products known as spread the cost or buy now pay later offered by numerous online stores, most particularly, shopping catalogues. This is useful for birthdays, Christmas, special occasions or a new season's wardrobe - as a Mum, this is normally for the child rather than ourselves.
As with all forms of credit there will be a credit check and you’re never guaranteed to get accepted. There are also catalogues for people with bad credit which tend to have more lenient credit checks.
But be careful! If you are not cautious using such a tool, it can bring more harm than good. To help you with that, below are a few top tips for shopping on finance responsibly.

Set A Budget
When it comes to financial matters, one of the first things that you need to address is setting a budget. Budgeting is a very important skill to learn, not only in shopping, but almost in all aspects of your finances.

The basic idea of budgeting is to plan your expenses or plan how much you are going to spend on shopping. It’s a simple formula, and yet you will need discipline when it comes to execution.
Set Aside that longing

When going out for shopping, it's best that you already have a good idea on what you are buying. However, your primary enemy when going out for shopping is impulse buying. How many items have you bought immediately in the past, but is now sitting in a closet or garage somewhere? Impulse buying is a waste of money, plain and simple.

To cure yourself from impulse buying, do not immediately purchase anything that appeals to you when you go out for shopping. If you really like a certain item, then put it on your wish list. Give it a few days or weeks. If you still like the item, then incorporate the item into your budget plans.
Sometimes shopping online can help with this as you don’t necessarily feel the pressure of having to buy there and then. Online catalogues are possibly the number one place to do online finance shopping.

Carry Less
Since you are shopping on finance, you are most likely going to carry a card of some sort that will represent your line of credit. If you have multiple cards, then only carry the ones you need. Avoid bringing along all your cards as this will only invite disaster. It’s like a man going on a diet and hanging out at the buffet table.

Manage your thoughts
Do you know what you need versus what you want? Have you thought about how long it will take to earn what you are spending? If a coffee and pastry costs 7 pounds and you're paid 7 pounds an hour it kind of puts things into perspective. 10 minutes to eat it, 1 hour to earn it! Shop when you need to rather than as retail therapy.

Shopping on finance is a great responsibility. Otherwise, you can put yourself in a debt spiral. So in summary, as a start, set a budget before going to shop, avoid impulse buying and do not bring-along needless finance or credit cards. Finally, control your thoughts; every purchase starts with a thought.

This post is a collaboration.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Only 14 Days Left to Save this Year's ISA Allowance

It's that time of year: end of the financial and tax years and even sooner for many working folk, end of the holiday year too. They both take some planning. If you want to stash away some savings you only have 14 days left to do so with a tax free ISA.

Nutmeg's homepage is telling me there is only 14 days and 10 hours remaining to benefit from your ISA and Pension Allowance for the tax year 2014-15.

Nutmeg from where I see it, is like an online piggy bank. Except it has portfolios behind it, that can be set at risk levels to suit you. 

My biggest regret is that I didn't save more, back when I had my great salary career. Clearly as a SAHM (stay at home Mum), I now would love to have that online piggy bank to access. I often think back to the days when I spent 11 pounds on lunch a day and didn't think twice about it (it was worse than that as I went to Pret a Manger on the way TO work and often got a takeaway on the way home as I worked such crazy long hours - I had a baby long before I had Aaron and that baby was my job). Fast forward a few years and I can make 11 pounds stretch VERY far. All of a sudden shopping in Aldi, and getting bargains in a charity shop has great appeal. I get a buzz out of being frugal, where once I got a buzz out of spending - how times change, such is the circle of life!

As finances are largely online nowadays it makes sense that the piggy banks are too.
I love how simple Nutmeg is. If I had some disposable income right now I would use it to save up for a trip to Ireland. Regular readers will know that firstly, my Mum lives in Ireland, and secondly 2014 is the only year in my life where I did not go, which is a big deal given that I used to go 3 times a year! Also, Aaron turns 5 in June, and once THAT happens, we will no longer, legally, be allowed offpeak holidays, so really, ideally, I need to get one in now, before that happens! If you're not a school Mum, what I mean is, once they are 5 they are the statutory legal age to attend compulsory school every day, unless they are home educated. He started school in September 2014 but because he is 4 we have been able to take the odd day off. We haven't abused this, and have only taken days off for things like seeing Santa in Harrods :-) and travelling back from a weekend in Scarborough, but I don't feel bad considering 80% of his class had two weeks off with chicken pox and he didn't (thanks to already having had it years ago). He's probably had 5 days off since September and one of them was for flu, so we haven't taken advantage, but that may change in the next 2.5 months LOL!

Moving on, and back to the subject of saving with Nutmeg.com I love that it comes up with warnings like this.

If you are yet to have a baby, I am a strong believer that you should save prior to conceiving. I know I did! Because despite being on a great salary our company only did statutory maternity pay, and I knew that wouldn't cut it, so I saved up a buffer that would see me through 11 months at home (even though I'd only planned on 6 originally). 

I have continued to try the site as I progress with this blog post and I have now discovered that you have to invest for a minimum of 3 years and start with a minimum sum of 1,000 pounds prior to making any contributions.

As of going to print Nutmeg states: We charge one simple management fee starting at 1% and going as low as 0.3%, including VAT. This fee covers everything we do, except for certain non-standard requests such as extra-fast withdrawals. There are no trading fees, no commissions, and no hidden charges.
But they go on to say: 

Yes, there is a minimum investment of £1,000 per fund you create. If you're investing below £5,000 we also ask for a £50/month contribution. These represent the minimum amounts for which we're able to offer truly diversified portfolios. You can add and withdraw money whenever you like.

Having spent quite some time on their site, their main USP would appear to be:
Your other main options are to build a portfolio yourself (time-consuming and you'll face commission and trading charges) or to hand your money over to someone else (often costly and opaque). We want to give you a different, cost-effective experience — just how investing should be.

Nutmeg have done an illustration to show that you earn more in your investment, by saving with them (compared to a competitor having a wealth management fee of 1.34%):
It's great to hear about how the company started and most importantly their ethics on the Nutmeg Story page, which includes a video from the CEO and Co-Founder Nick Hungerford.

The way I personally saved for having a baby was via an ISA. We're given a tax free allowance in the UK to do so, and Nutmeg has a countdown on their homepage as you have until 5th April to use your allowance for THIS tax year or lose it forever . The ISA basics are here. I used an ordinary cash ISA to save pre motherhood; Nutmeg does only stocks and shares ISAs. This is what they say, but there is also a video on that ISA basics link I just shared:
Nutmeg is a discretionary investment manager, which means that we make the investment decisions on your behalf. When you open a Stocks and Shares ISA, we use your contributions to invest in anything from equities to corporate bonds, gilts to gold. If the investments held within your ISA make a profit, you are exempt from capital gains tax. You also receive preferential tax treatment on dividends and interest.
Wealth is a funny old game, and as with everything you get out what you put in. Regular readers will know I am very spiritual, and money at the end of the day is energy, so it needs to flow uninhibited as with everything else in life. Money conjures up many issues of self worth, so as with most things, the journey starts inside ourselves.

Bye for now, Liska xx

This post is a collaboration.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Our Spring Equinox and Solar Eclipse for #CountryKids

I remember a couple of years ago, actually last year AND the year before (Feb 2014 daisies 2013 daisy picking), both years feeling really Summery when Aaron picked me daisies. I am pleased to say this has begun in earnest, so you can relax that Spring is definitely underway with Summer round the corner :-)
Excuse the crusty nose, but we all have the lurgy in this house presently. His nose gets like that at school as they expect them to be independent. Suffice to say, yesterday and today I have got through quite a few wipes to clean him up after the school run! Today in the morning I even put a pack of tissues in EACH pocket of his school trousers and it still happened...

Despite me and Daddy both having Spring flus, Daddy indulged Aaron in a kick about in the park, as the weather was too good to ignore.
There's little I love more than watching them play footie. It warms every cockle of my heart and I get to unwind knowing they are both briefly occupied and I am not needed for a few minutes. And breathe! :-)
Love hearing the football tips that Daddy passes onto Aaron that will put him in good stead for football coaching starting once again in April - Aaron's looking forward to it already. Bless! I love our cycles to and from just as much as watching the football. I enjoyed giving it up once the evenings got cold and dark though, but with the clocks going forward soon, we're ready to adopt all our Spring Summer routines once again! Yee haw!

So, a few weeks ago I was blogging how Aaron was making me go to the park every day after school. Well yesterday and today we were back to that once again. Last night (Thurs 19th March) we went there straight after school at 15:15 yet we were not home till 18:45 at which point my fingers were numb! Tonight thankfully we were home soon after 18:00. It was a warm evening this evening but only until 17:00. My last hour in the park a chill had set in, which Aaron running around does not notice.

I've made a video, I hope you enjoy it:

My favourite photo from tonight, has to be this one. Aaron and his classmate. Both #CountryKids
I'm hooking this post up with #CountryKids over at Coombe Mill.
 Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall 

Monday, 16 March 2015

My Best Mother's Day Ever

This year Mother's Day did not disappoint. I had a lovely afternoon with Aaron where I spent what I was going to spend on lunch out on a Transformer for him instead LOL. He was over the moon! Then in the evening Daddy surprised me with 3 cards AND 2 bunches of roses AND a box of 3 Krispy Kremes AND a bottle of wine. I felt very spoilt and very loved.

There was a great build up to Mother's Day too, with the arrival of my Beanies Stash Box, which I really enjoyed sampling every flavour of:


It seems the theme of this Mother's Day was tea/coffee because the card I woke up to, was the one Aaron made at school, (hidden in his Friday book bag for hand delivery Sunday) which had a teapot on the front that he'd personally decorated with sequins:
The two most touching things about it were firstly his beautiful handwriting inside, and secondly, that there was an individually wrapped Pukka Early Grey Tea Bag stuck inside continuing the "tea" theme (on the reverse of the teapot - just opposite Aaron's handwritten message). I ran out of Earl Grey a few weeks ago, so I did actually open it and begin Mothering Sunday by drinking it :-) For posterity I kept the wrapper stuck inside the card, and literally just cut out the bag, to liberate it and get it in my cup! 

It is incredibly touching when Teachers do things like this, to ensure us Mums have a special day, regardless of what Dad does or doesn't do. To pay it forward, I sent a text to everyone on our PTA to wish them a wonderful day, and to celebrate the fact that we all add a bit of magic to the curriculum. I also rung my niece to ensure she was giving her Mum a wonderful day. Continuing what the Teachers started, with their crafted teapots - Mums looking after other Mums.
teapigs also sent me a Mother's Day gift to celebrate their new monthly tea subscription service, which you can get as a gift or for yourself - the subscription costs between 39 and 99 pounds depending on the length of subscription so there's something for everyone - choose to have tea for 3, 6 or 9 months. I love the shopper bag that my tea arrived in! I can't wait to try the everyday brew!

Just now, I put the roses from Daddy in vases. Kind of ironic really as it was only yesterday that I noticed the dead Valentine's roses still in the vase on the window (what can I say, it's been a mentally busy couple of weeks), and I was enjoying my minimalist window once again. But as of this afternoon, it's full of flowers again (I was too tired to put them in vases last night). Beautiful colourful roses!

I did the proper thing of cutting 2 cm off the bottom of each stem, and added them to a litre of water with their food. Also cut off any leaves that would be below  the water line, but it was ONLY when taking photos for this post, that I noticed I had them in completely the wrong vases, so I went from this to this:

Before
 After:
The orchids I bought myself for Valentine's Day in Aldi are still alive and well as you can see :-)
So I am very thrilled with myself this Mother's Day. I am kind of looking like that frog above right about now. 

I love my tea, my coffee, my cards and my flowers. I should really photograph what's written inside the cards too, as that's the real icing on the cake. It's been a long time coming but I finally got my perfect Mother's Day. I've thanked Daddy by making our favourite lunch, for us to have today Monday, whilst Aaron's at school. In fact I've only just finished it, which gave me the energy to put this blog post together.
If you are a Mamma reading this, then remember you are beautiful and very loved this Mother's Day.

Bye for now,
Liska xxx

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Danceathon at Wembley by Team Honk for Comic Relief's Red Nose Day 2015

What with Danceathon and everything, wow, it's been an emotional week. I made a mad dash to TK Maxx to get their official Henry Holland Red Nose Day onesie on Thursday (a week ago today), followed by getting hair grips and a tutu skirt in Claire's Accessories. It's great to know that with those purchases you're making a donation to Comic Relief. A huge ten pounds goes to Comic Relief from each sale of the onesie for example. I do love it and have worn it three times already (for our World Book Day movie night, for Wembley's Danceathon, and finally for our school Danceathon), although the chances are high that I may wear it again tomorrow for Red Nose Day itself. It'd be a great way of taking part in Pippa's #MyKidsDressedMe. That reminds me, best put the washing machine on!
TK Maxx Comic Relief Red Nose Day 2015 onesie
The above pic was taken by me, in the mirror, in the loos at school, as I changed into the onesie for school's danceathon on Tuesday. I don't know why/how I look so normal in it when I looked like a HOUSE getting into the Mr Tickle car outside Wembley Arena, as you'll see later, below. I think thanks to bloating, I have big days and less big days.

It was a long long day Sunday 8th March and a gang of us met at Paddington station:
Travelled to Paddington for Danceathon

Paddington Team Honk Danceathon Comic Relief
We then had a long walk to Wembley Arena from Wembley Central.... except it went incredibly quickly as we were all busy chatting. Someone had said on Facebook the walk would be 15 minutes so I thought we could consider it a warmup, but looking at Google now, I am realising why the walk passed so quickly; twas only a wee 6 minutes. The walk was GREAT for calming my nerves and getting me grounded and centred, but it seemed that feeling was short-lived unfortunately. As with everything in life, preparation is everything, and it was a little lacking here - oooops. Arriving at the venue itself was superb as there was a Mr Tickle character AND a car that bounced and moved when you tickled its interior (if you could get into it first that is, which with my stupid rucksuck wasn't the easiest of tasks). This can be seen in full effect if you watch my Danceathon You Tube video.
Arriving at Wembley for danceathon Comic Relief 2015
We got inside, and the first thing to make an impact was the @PopChoir - they feature in my Danceathon Video, at 4 minutes in. Oh my God they were moving! Talk about heart-opening! I only wish I'd stayed and videoed them for longer, but I was like a kid who didn't want to be parted from his/her Mum. I felt that I needed to stay with everyone or I'd get lost. Later, when I knew my way round the venue, I realised how terribly silly this had been of me. Nerves eh?!?!?!?

So we found our way to the cloakroom queue, at which point I went into a complete panic. For no other reason than my mind was too blank to know what was in there... could I hand it in, when there may be something I needed in there? Also, I convinced myself that my train buddies would want to go home, and they'd be cross waiting for me, when I was in a long queue at the end of the night to pick it up (this was a real memory from nightclub days from *coughs* decades ago - yes, I am OLD)! This turned out to be an irrational fear, as when we left there was hardly anyone in the venue apart from staff and security. We were doing a group photo, post-event and they were patiently waiting for us to do that before politely shimmying us on our way. I went into the loos to empty the blasted rucksack, and it turned out the whole bottom half was easter eggs - 100 of the buggers - that I'd intended on handing to everyone. Turned out I never got chance to do so and carried them home again. I didn't realise the counter I emptied everything on to, was actually one of those flat designer basin things and at one point the tap came on, directly above my change of clothes, which I really hadn't needed to bring with me anyway. I was happy travelling to and from Wembley in my onesie. So, it turned out, the only thing I took out of my rucksack was Aaron's PLANES lunchbox, which had my vital snacks in. A side pocket had Nurofen in, so me and Jane took this opportunity to take the pain killers that would get us through the day - me for my plantar fasciitis and her for her knee. So to anyone who saw this inner toilet, rucksack car crash, I do apologise. I am normally the sort of composed person who looks out for everyone else, so it really wasn't me, neither was it helpful, for me to go into panic paddy mode :-(

When we eventually got on the dancefloor I realised I couldn't dance with my satchel handbag crossing over me, so I put that and my (Aaron's) lunchbox on the floor in front of me. It VERY soon became evident that I couldn't dance around my handbag. Just as with the cloakroom queue this wasn't after all a nightclub, despite its close imitation of one. Yes we danced for hours, yes there was loud music, bright lights and security but there was no alcohol ;-)

So I put my two bags against the wall, as I was dancing far left anyway, but security was tight and I was immediately told to keep them with me. Nell and Tinuke BOTH danced with rucksacks (as they were in the no bum bag gang like me), so really I should have brought a small rucksack with me (I have many) OR should have gone back up to Aly (who was kindly minding my bag while spectating and being @Team_Honk s online presence for the day) and swapped the contents of my rucksack for things I needed, strapped it on tight and danced with it on. I've danced while carrying a large Aaron so could easily have danced with the rucksack on my back, instead of two (in the way) bags at my feet, that nearly tripped up Kath. I made my overdraft bigger by getting the onesie, the hairgrips and the tutu, as I wanted to do everything by-the-book, but somehow still managed to put my foot in it - literally!

Suffice to say, I therefore didn't feel comfortable enough to dance properly, so busied myself making videos, 43 clips in total, which resulted in this Danceathon video which I am quite proud of, as badly edited as it is LOL:
When I did the school Danceathon, on Tuesday, I danced PROPERLY, being that I didn't have bags at my feet. BUT then the penny dropped, it WASN'T just the bags. At school I was near enough that I could SEE the instructor, whereas at Danceathon I was really far back, and as the whole thing was choreographed (and I am meant to wear glasses and don't) I really really struggled. I've deliberately waited 5 days to post this post, as I know in the initial days everyone wants to read HIGH posts, and so much of this sounds like sour grapes. 

It's not though, I just didn't do enough physical prep, in that I didn't have a much needed bum bag with me, and didn't do any emotional prep as we had incredibly bad news as a family, at 2:30 in the morning, Friday night/Saturday morning. So I kind of went into zombie mode, emotionally, all day Saturday, and therefore didn't have my whits about me to be the bubble and bundle of positive energy that I normally am. To anyone who walked passed my cloud of panic, I can only apologise. I think there are probably a few people I do need to apologise to. This has been a hard post to write. Quite emotional. But that's my circus and my monkeys to deal with.
Painting on a red nose for red nose day 2015
A makeup red nose
I am incredibly grateful to Jane to travelling to and from with me, including collecting me from home and depositing me at home, before and after our LONG train journey. Now she's a lady who was prepared. She even had red face paint in her bag, so I did her a Bare Minerals makeover, and she loaned me the paint so I could do cheeks and a nose - well it is red nose day (tomorrow) after all :-) We had such a fabulous time on the train, as you can see at the start of the video. The funniest bits aren't even on there as I was too busy having a laugh to film. Us on the train is probably my favourite pic from the day.

For the most part of the day, I danced with Nell and Tinuke who were great dancing buddies, but also Hatty who's not in these pics:
NewMumOnline and Tinuke and Nell at Danceathon 2015 Comic Relief
Story of Mum is a complete legend, and that's another legend seen below: Richard Curtis (he who's won so many film awards AND the very same man who started Comic Relief back in the 1980s with Lenny Henry):
Story of Mum and Richard Curtis at Danceathon
That's her Mum in those pics above, no, not her Sister. As well as starting #MyKidsDressedMe she also sold the above balloons, at 3 pounds each, in exchange for sponsorship and she danced unfettered in them ALL DAY. Proof being, that end of the day they're only just taking them off (then they rolled on floor and popped them, but I don't have a pic of that):
Story of Mum
We actually got a pic with the legend that is Richard Curtis too. Excuse the blur. I'd actually seen him wandering around for about 30 minutes and didn't have the confidence to approach him, despite recognising him. So funny, that when I eventually did, I only did so when others did and there was a queue. Hence the rush and the blur. We also got a pic with Emma Freud on Instagram, but it's crazy dark.
Us with Richard Curtis founder of Comic Relief
At one point my cousin, her husband and his brother came in to spectate. Which was a tear jerker in itself as she personally sponsored me 30 pounds. The only friend/family to do so. I only publicised it in Facebook statuses which she straight away picked up on. I was too shy to email/DM/text people directly. So, anyway, I digressed, I went up to the spectator's area, where I got some great footage, in my video above, like everyone dancing to Jesus Christ. At which point I also got a photograph of a photographer. I adore this pic for some reason.
Danceathon photographer Comic Relief
At Danceathon, Tanya went on stage, to show her tattoo to the cameras (a red nose tattoo that has earned a lot of sponsorship), footage that I hope makes it to Friday's Red Nose day show on BBC1, but it is in my video above from 18:44 minutes in (along with the Team Honk accompanying applause) if it doesn't make the cut. Her showing her bum on TV very soon became known as #ArseGate on Twitter
Mummy Barrow arse Tattoo for Comic Relief
It is incredible how bright and empty and how quickly, the dance floor was, so soon after it all finishing. There was footage on the big screens of kids shouting out THANK YOU. I wish I'd filmed it, but here's some of Team Honk when it became time to say night night
end of danceathon comic relief 2015
Me and Jane were still BUZZING on the way home. We inhaled a Burger King with Kath from Dreaming of a Craft Room at Paddington station and scoffed our weight in sweets on the train. We then found some time to be #FunnyForMoney as that's what it's all about tomorrow.
funny for money faces red nose day 2015
What are YOU doing for Red Nose Day Friday 13th March?

At our school we did a Danceathon on Tuesday, for which all of the children, aged 4-11 are getting sponsored. (The traditional way on paper so I don't know a total). It was Zumba and was AMAZING!!!!

I've sold noses before and after school every day, with our PTA. I've just heard that we've run out, so we've got through over 300. Everyone has been so generous. With them being blind bags and 9 styles available everyone bought them in multiples, with one Dad even buying 20!

We don't have a Sainsbury's anywhere nearby, so we bought our red noses for 18 pounds for every 60 on the school's deposit scheme, and it was incredibly popular! People loved the convenience of buying them in the playground and it created SUCH a buzz.

We bought four noses on Tuesday at school after our Danceathon and our luck was in, as ALL FOUR were different look:
Red Nose Day 2015 NOSE IN A BAG
Four of the nine red noses available
But as I would like to have all 9 of them, I bought another one this morning, and my luck was out as it was a duplicate. I wonder, dear reader, do you have all 9 and how much did you have to spend to get nine? I guess it could become like stickers, where you swap them in the playground. GREAT FUN!!!

Oh, I am YET to reach my TARGET so I would love it if you could SPONSOR ME. The WONDERFUL people from +Funky Moves Dance Funky Moves Dance already have as have Hotter Shoes, who actually supplied the footwear that kept me with a spring in my step all day, like this:

A photo posted by Liska (@newmumonline) on


They really are INCREDIBLY springy. The fact that I have plantar fasciitis and was able to be on my feet all day, is really saying something about their footwear!!!! Even though there were times I did not dance, every time we were asked to jump up and down, I always did, and the springiness ALWAYS supported me. The promised comfort you get from Hotter is for real. This is what I was wearing: 
Star Shoes from Hotter in Turquoise

If you want to watch a +Red Nose Day video that is HOT off the press, watch this. A beautiful lady called her twins Lenny and Henry:

in honour of Lenny Henry who started +Red Nose Day with Richard Curtis, back in the 1980s.

Bye for now Liska
xxx


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