Another busy couple of weeks here. Albert is approaching 17 weeks old – Where has it gone?! He continues to be smiley and chatty in generally, with some griping and teething pains here and there. 16 week jabs are done and dusted and we now have a clear 36 weeks til his one year ones, thankfully! He now sleeps in his own room as the Moses basket was looking a little tiddly, and we’ve invested in a video monitor so we can see what he’s up to in there.
Every moment we’re not feeding, playing, or sleeping, I’m thinking hard about finances, the inevitable return to work and how we can make the bit in between more palatable. We’ve also decided that now most of the house is done, we simply cannot wait another moment and we need to do something about our kitchen, so we’re having Wickes come round and measure up and come up with some new designs for us.
Here are my moneysaving brainwaves from the last couple of weeks, we need them more than ever with our grand plans!
- D’s trains are always late. He pays over £6700 a year to take them, so naturally this is far from ideal. It’s been in the news a lot recently, about the escalating costs of substandard travel, and frankly ‘I’m mad as hell and I am not going to take it anymore’ Now, every time he’s on a late train, he texts me his ETA and I log straight onto South Eastern’s delay repay form and complete it for that journey. I believe all rail providers have them. When his season ticket runs out in October, he’s going to start working from home one day a week, and travel off peak on the other days which will make such a difference to out disposable income.
- I’ve been doing some extreme couponing on the Boots app, where you can load deals onto your advantage card and use them in store. Last week they had a deal where you got a free packet of nappies when you spend £15. I used the opportunity to use the deals to get the most I could for that £15, so stocked up on nappy cream and bottle teats which we will need eventually, and got as many extra points as I could. I now have circa £60 worth of points on my Advantage card which will certainly help when money really does dry up.
- Using eBay local deals and Facebook local selling sites I’ve been able to clear some clutter at home and also get some bargains. I got Albie a Bumbo with tray and activity tray for £15, in great condition. I also popped to a local car boot on bank holiday and got him some foam jigsaw floor mats, a couple of books, a cute music box and a lovely wooden toy box with toys for £7 in total! Via Facebook, I got a child bike seat in fantastic condition for £5 (£75 in store at Halfords). Martin Lewis has a great tool for searching for local items that are listed as collection only, I think I feel a new obsession coming on!
- I’ve been trying to walk as much as possible, and so a good excuse to do so is for my free coffee at our out-of-town Waitrose. Buy something in store and swipe your myWaitrose card at the till and you get a free coffee, every day if you want it. I do most of our food shopping in bits as and when we need it, because it gives me another excuse to get out of the house, so often I only pop in for one or two things but leave with a steaming hot coffee for the walk back! With the myWaitrose card you can also pick up to 10 of your favourite products and always get 20% off at the till. People talk about Waitrose being posh and expensive but they really offer good value for money in most areas.
- The Works do some fantastic childrens’ picture books and they are all 3 for £5, and they have a loyalty card. I’m spending more and more time reading to Albie, when he’s fed up with playing on his mat or in his Bumbo, but isn’t quite ready to nap yet, so having a wide range of books is key. The Magic Paintbrush is our latest purchase.
- I can’t believe we are at the point Albie could start having food already, although I’m keen to wait to as close to 6 months as we can, so we can go straight in with finger foods. I’ve been to a local children’s centre weaning workshop, and read a bit in my Annabel Karmel meal planning book and I think it’s going to be a mixed approach, with some purees and mush thrown in for good measure. I’ve picked up some jarred baby food when it’s been reduced to clear (discontinued, rather than short-dated) to take the edge off the cost of buying the pre-made stuff. On the whole I hope to make as much as possible myself, but these will help for times when that’s not been possible.
We are preparing for D’s birthday and our upcoming barbecue. We got a great half price charcoal barbecue at Dobbies, so now we just have to go and buy loads of meat. I’m going to look at doing some nice salads and I’m daydreaming about an epic cheeseboard! A very kind friend spend an entire day cleaning our decking and trimming the hedge tomorrow, we are starting to look like we are ready to go with actually having a mass of people over!