Bargain · Budget · Maternity Leave · Money · Moneysaving · Uncategorized

The Art of Getting By (on SMP) #1

Albert is now approaching 12 weeks old – how time has flown! So fast I haven’t been able to get it together and keep my blog up to date at all, but I’ve figured out a new little series I want to do – moneysaving tips and tricks that I’m adopting whilst on maternity leave/pay. I love the thrill of finding a real bargain, and with our current situation I think it’s only appropriate I share some of these recent gems.

I make no secret of the fact that we are not rich. Our incomes are modest and now mine is shrinking to near non-existent levels while I take maternity leave. My husband pays through the nose to get to work in London by train (and I did too before maternity leave). We’ve managed to buy a house with a deposit put together from inheritances from our dear grandparents, and had to do a reasonable amount of work to it, including rewiring and a partial roof replacement. We still have a lot more to do too. The 3rd and final bedroom is nearing completion with carpet being laid on Thursday. We’d love to redo the kitchen and bathroom but these are going to have to make do with a lick of paint until we somehow come into some money.

I’ve just had my last full month’s pay and now I am well aware that the SMP I get will barely cover our household bills, which will leave me with very little left over, if anything at all. Since I finished work back in April I’ve been putting aside the money I would have spent on a rail ticket to help me with these difficult times ahead, and I will blog about the ways in which I have found to save us cash over the coming months.

Some recent bright ideas:

  • I joined Dobbies Rewards scheme. This cost £10 (bear with me now…) but you then get 2 ‘free’ hot drinks a month, which means I’ve paid £10 for 24 coffee dates that I won’t be able to afford otherwise.  It’s £12 if you pay upfront and £10 if you pay by direct debit. You also get exclusive discounts and 10% off seeds and bulbs, and I got a hanging basket worth £6 for signing up.
  • I have no qualms about second hand baby clothes. The time period they are used for is so short anyway –  I can’t believe I’m about to bag up all of the pristine 0-3 stuff to make way for the 3-6 already. We were recently given a bundle of lightly used clothes in this size, which meant that when we received 6 x new 3-6 month sleepsuits from a friend who hadn’t met Albert yet, we had an oversupply situation, so I exchanged some of them today for the next size up, so we can avoid needing to buy them in 2-3 months time.
  • We’ve been going to Baby Sensory, which is fun but steep, especially when Albert slept through 4 of the 6 sessions. I was notified yesterday that there was a space available for Tiny Talk (baby signing) from September, so at £25 versus the Baby Sensory £39 for 6 sessions I decided to save myself the £14 and give something new a whirl. We can always revisit Sensory later if we want to, and I can put that £14 towards something else, like swimming lessons.
  • I weighed myself and was shocked at the findings. I promptly joined Weightwatchers, going for the 3 month online pass. At the time there was an offer to sign up for £39, and then I got £30 cashback through Quidco for it, so it really only cost me £9. I’d like to lose 3.5 stone in total to get back to where I was pre-wedding (2.5 pre pregnancy). I’ve lost 8lb so far in the last 3 weeks, although I’ve been having some time off from it at weekends. People have told me to take it easy as it’s not been long since Albert joined us, but I wasn’t feeling good about myself. I feel better and more in control when doing something about it, and WW isn’t about deprivation so I am still eating plenty, just not so much chips and mayonnaise!
  • I attended a free baby buggy fitness class yesterday, which was a bit of fun. I’m currently debating whether to invest now in 10 sessions for £50 or to go it alone in the garden or with a fitness DVD I already own. Once I’ve lost another half a stone, I’ll go running again (which is free), but I found it was really hard on my knees which was probably down not only to my post-partum ligaments, but the extra weight I am carrying!
  • My predisposition to need to get out of the house every day means I can peruse the shops and pounce upon bargains. Like with second-hand things, I am not proud nor fussy about short-dated food, so I always look for those yellow  reduced to clear stickers. I got some (diet-friendly) bargains from Asda on Friday including the stir fry veg which I’d popped in for anyway. I do fear that Albert’s first words are going to be “YELLOW STICKER!!” though…
  • I check O2 Priority Moments constantly for new deals. Every Tuesday, O2 customers can get a free coffee at Caffe Nero so I make it my business to go and get my free coffee while I am in town. You can also get a Boots Meal deal for just £1 on a Monday and there’s a new freebie at Boots every fortnight – at the moment it’s a Botanics cleanser so a pretty good one, I’ve grabbed that to use when my current face wash runs out. I also discovered today their deal with WHSmith where you can pick up a new (pre-selected) book for £1, but the book wasn’t in stock, and to be honest I have loads to read anyway so I am happy to give that one a miss.
  • I’d heard great things about the Jumperoo from friends with older babies. I managed to snag one on a local classifieds group on Facebook for just £15, so I felt pretty darn pleased with myself about that one.

I’ve not been a complete angel when it comes to cash though. Here are some of the ways I’ve squandered cash recently:

  • I had a minor altercation with a London bus as I drove home from a friend’s baby shower. Our new (to us) car will eventually need a respray which we either need to fork out for, or go through insurance for, which will raise our premium next year – but at least nobody was hurt, which I keep reminding myself.
  • Whilst we have a need to be frugal, I can’t help but want to have nice things. When I popped to the local Designer Outlet with my mum last week, I dropped £10 on an orange cast iron trevit from Denby that we don’t really need. It’s pretty though. So there’s that.
  •  On the same shopping trip I bought Albie a couple more bits from GAP, but I don’t think £7 for two t-shirts and a vest is much of a splurge,and they;re a couple of sizes bigger so really I am investing for later on, when I really have NO money at all!
  • On Saturday we popped to our local summer festival, where we enjoyed substandard burgers for £6.50 a pop. It’s not summer without overpriced, inadequate outdoor food though.

And some of the challenges afoot:

  • So busy concentrating on the interior, we’ve neglected the exterior of our house. As I approach it I feel a little embarrassed. Our front door is shabby, the front of the house filthy, and the iron fencing is coming off the scrappy, dilapidated wall. The door has also come off our gas meter box so it all just looks rather sorry for itself. Now that most of the rooms are done, we are going to book in to have the windows cleaned and gutters cleared to start with, and go from there.
  • We’ve decided to host a barbecue for Dave’s birthday, which means we need to buy a barbie, and give the garden and decking a spruce.

Would love to hear about inventive ways you’ve saved money while on maternity leave or otherwise short of funds! Am I missing a trick?

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