Monday, 20 April 2015

Money Monday || Making the most of cash back

Who wouldn't want free money just for shopping? We that is exactly how cashback works. Whenever I make a large online purchase I look to see if I can get cashback. 
Currently some banks offer cashback on purchases made. The Santander 123 Credit Card (and I'm only advocating credit cards if you can use them responsibly i.e. pay them off every month) has a staggered cashback depending on the type of purchase. Lloyds offer an 'everyday offers' scheme which provides cashback and is available on all current account including student accounts. Also if you are a Lloyds customer be sure to sign up to their 'its on us' scheme where they can randomly pay for something you purchased on your card during the month up to the value of £500.

My favourite online cashback scheme is Quidco. I have found myself using it a lot whilst booking my holiday to America this summer. We managed to get cashback on our flights, accommodation, car hire and currency exchange which has saved us quite a bit of money and all for buy what we would have bought in the first place. 

Grocery cashback- Quidco, Shopitiize, Checkoutsmart and TopCashback all offer cashback schemes for shopping where you upload your receipt and if it coincides with any cashback offers they are running you get the money back. I find that it works well to check these sites when you are writing your shopping list. Though don't be fooled sometimes it still works out cheaper to buy generic store brand rather than the branded product with cashback. For all my English readers out there head over to CouponShop for the latest top cashback deals and where best to use them. 

What amazing deals have you found with cashback schemes?

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Wedding Wednesday : Bridesmaids Dresses

Some of the first people I told about my engagement were my bridesmaids. I decided to keep my bridal party quite small with three bridesmaids (although one is technically a flower girl at her request).

With the colour scheme being navy, purple and gold we decided upon navy bridesmaids dresses (allowing for purple bouquets). Here are some of our favourite dresses. 

Bridesmaid's dresses

We ultimately ended up decided on these gorgeous lace top dresses from Joy. We were super lucky as we found some 20% off special offer for the day we ordered (top tip with joy they quit frequently have offers so keep an eye out)

What would you like to see in the #weddingwednesday series?

Monday, 13 April 2015

Money Monday || Saving money on bills

For students bills are one of the most unpredictable outgoings (unless your super lucky to have them included in your rent). Living in a shared house you are not in complete control of your household consumption. But there are a number of things you can do to to ease the cost. 
  1.  Sit down with your housemates at the start of the year and talk about your expectations for consumption. Do this again when you get bills especially if it has gone up and discuss what changes can be made. 
  2. Don't assume the previous tenants found the best deal. Seach for the best energy supplier at the start of your tenancy. Try using a comparison site like MoneySupermarket  to compare prices. 
  3. Set heating and hot water on timers. Most of the time you will be out of the house so during the winter it is economical to have heating and hot water set to a couple of hours in the morning and evening. We have it set for 7-9am and 6-8pm and this works really well. 
  4. Give the dishwasher a miss. It is super easy to just chuck your pots in the dishwasher and be done with washing up but it costs a lot more in energy than washing up by hand. 
  5. Say bye-bye to stand-by. Try to ensure all communal appliances (and your own as well) are turned off at the socket after use. 
  6. Share laundry loads. If your house comes with a washing machine rather than everyone doing laundry individually and share loads and you wont use the washing machine as much. Saving you electricity and water. 

Monday, 6 April 2015

Money Monday: Living on an irregular income (aka student finance)

This past week was Student loan/grant payment time. For many it was long over due.  Often students find themselves really struggling to budget with such an irregular income. However, there are a number of simple but effective ways to deal with an irregular income. 

  1. When your student loan comes in divide it up into the number of months that it needs to last you (usually 3 or 4) and put everything but this months money in a easy access savings account. This way you can pay your self a monthly pay cheque making it much easier to budget as you know how much you have to spend over shorter periods of time as well as long term. 
  2. Try to have all bills frequent and rent infrequent. If you are fortunate like I am my landlord lets me pay my rent when student finance comes in, allowing me to pay 3 times a year. If you let your landlord know this before you sign the contract they are usually fine with it. For bills try to have them monthly. Quarterly/biannual bills are awful because it is so easy to forget about them, they are hard to budget for and it is hard to change your usage habits if you don't know how much you are using. 
  3. Try to have fixed bills. For example at the moment my internet bill is a fixed monthly amount. This allows me to budget this easily as I know exactly what it will cost each month. Whereas my electricity bill is not fixed and so it is much more difficult to budget. 
  4. Splurge at the end of term, not the beginning. So your bank account is fuller than it has been in months. Stop, and think about much more rewarding it would be to have a treat at the end of term. Try to budget to leave your self an 'emergency fund' but if your are lucky and there are no emergencies this term you should have a nice pot of money to treat yourself. 
  5. Stay out of your overdraft. Yes they are often charge free and interest free in student accounts but this is a habit to build for life. At the end of the day it is not your money and therefore do not consider it part of your student 'income'. This may be difficult but with careful budgeting (and potentially increasing income through part-time work) it is possible
Happy saving :) 

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Baking with Beckie || Easter edition

Happy Easter everyone. Easter is one of my favourite celebrations of the year as it is through the power of Jesus' atonement that we can have everlasting life. This weekend was a double-whammy being Easter and the LDS general conference. Whilst I was visiting home, Mum and I decided to do a bit of baking.

Chocolate Cake
150g Caster sugar
150 g butter
125g Flour
25g cocoa powder
3 eggs
1 tsp of baking powder
1 tsp of milk

Chocolate frosting
50g margarine
45g cocoa powder
450g icing sugar
75ml milk
1 tsp of vanilla

1 bag of mini eggs

1. Cream the sugar and butter together
2. Add the eggs and flour and mix
3. Add the cocoa powder, baking powder and mix
4. Add the milk as needed to adjust the consistency
5. Bake at 180 degrees for 25 minutes

6. Whilst the cake is baking make the butter cream by mixing all the ingredients together.

7. Take the cake out of the oven and allow to cool before cutting with a bread knife to create two layers

8. Frost the top of the bottom layer to act as the filling of the cake, then place the top layer on top
9. Crumb coat the outside of the cake 
10.  Using a Wilton 2D nozzle pipe a row of roses on the cake a little way of the edge
11. Pipe a large rose in the middle of the cake
12. Put a row of mini eggs around the large rose and eggs in between the smaller roses