Category: Money Saving

Competitions: Tips and Tricks to earn ££££’s

CompetitionsI have been entering competitions regularly for well over 6 years now. In that time I have won some fantastic prizes. This has included:

  • Samsung 46″ 3D Smart TV
  • An Ipad Mini
  • A Sony Smart Watch
  • GTEC Cordless hover
  • Jawbone Fitness Tracker
  • £500 of Make-up
  • £500 B&Q Gift Card
  • £200 Virgin Experience day Voucher
  • £100 Spa finder Voucher
  • 2x Smart Phones
  • Kindle
  • Toys Galore
  • Food and Food Hampers
  • Clothes
  • Various Electronics

I could go on forever, to be honest, I have forgotten half of the items I have won because there has been so many! I was once so close to winning a 5* All inclusive holiday to St.Lucia, but I was peeped to the post last minute, drats. However, that’s the way it is. You win some, you lose some!

I’m always described as being Lucky when I tell people what I have won. However, the reality is competitions are a numbers game and I make my own luck. I try to enter on average 100 competitions a day.  Now life gets in the way sometimes and it’s not always possible, but don’t stress. There’s always another competition to enter! There is no way on earth I would describe myself as lucky, in fact, a nickname given to me by a friend at University was Bad luck Brown!! However, I would say on average I have won £1500 – £2000 worth of prizes a year and I’m forever taking breaks, it depending on life! The best thing is though, you don’t pay tax on your winnings!

I have taken probably my biggest hiatus from comping, it’s been about 6 months since I was regularly entering them. This kind of coincided with my issues at work and just generally feeling hmph. I probably should have carried on the wins are great pick me ups, but I just didn’t have the drive. That was until this week, and I got the bug again. This made me think, why not share my knowledge with you all that I have learnt over the years.

My Tips and Tricks

  • Set up an email address only for competitions – you will get spam
  • Sign up to the Mail Preference Service and the Telephone preference service to reduce unwanted calls and junk mail.
  • Use autofill form – I use Lastpass – This saves loads of time believe me!
  • Register with a competition site such as The Prize Finder or MSE has a great Competition Forum. That way you know the comps are going to be legit!
  • Have a system, sort the boards, don’t just enter all over the place. I like to sort by date as to not miss any closing earlier.
  • Make a note of those you enter, MSE has tick facility – you can get disqualified on most if you enter more than once.
  • Have a daily target, but don’t stress if you don’t hit it.
  • Open uploads of tabs if your computer will let you, it saves time.
  • Only enter for stuff you really want or can gift to someone who would want it. Why enter to win a wedding if you’re married? and leave the family holidays for families if your single or a couple.
  • Always read t&c even if it’s a glance you may find you are not allowed to enter or you can’t attend.
  • Look out for tick boxes – they are sometimes hidden, always opt out of communication if you have the option.
  • I find Twitter and Facebook slow for wins, but quick to complete (others win loads on these). If something’s not working for you, and your time limited pass those ones by.
  • Lower value prizes and local comps tend to have lower entries.
  • Effort comps take longer but you have more chance of winning, personally, I don’t tend to enter effort comps unless it’s something I really want and just speed through the easy ones –  do what feels right or works for you.
  • Dont ever pay to enter a competition!
  • Keep a spreadsheet of your wins – sometimes you might need to chase them up!
  • Dont give up – your not going to win straight away (you might!) but most comps take a good while to get back to you after the closing date if you win anyway. If you enter for a few weeks and give up, you haven’t given it chance, believe me when I say you really have to keep going to start seeing the prizes arrive, but when they do, you realise it’s worth it!

Finally, remember wins are not guaranteed, I find them like buses, you don’t win anything then you get a flurry!! I would also recommend having a mooch on over to Di Cokes site, Super lucky for inspiration, competitions and heaps of great advice!

Do you comp? have you had any big wins, or perhaps you’ve just experienced your first win? I would love to hear.

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Living on a tight budget

Living on a tight budget

I was reading an article a couple of days ago on the BBC about a predicted rise in inflation. My heart just sank. As a family, we live on a very tight budget. I guess we are what is known as the Middle classed squeezed. We both work, our salaries are nothing to shout about, they could be better but then again they could be worse! We can not apply for help as we just earn over the threshold, everything we pay for comes from our wages. There’s nothing to fall back on.

Living in the south has it advantages. It’s beautiful, but being on the commuter belt to London, everything is very expensive including housing. We don’t own a home, I doubt we could get a mortgage. If we could we have no deposit and no way to save for one. So we rent. The cost of renting is extortionate. Although our rent is high, we are lucky that it’s on the cheaper side for a 3 bed house in this area. However, we get stung paying over £200 a month in council tax. On top of that we pay between £150 – £200 of nursery fee’s. This is before we pay out for all the other bills, food and cars.

At the end of the day we just manage to balance the books at the end of each month, this is after having to budget in a wage cut when my employer decided to reduce my hours back in August. However unexpected bills are a struggle. So the thought of a 4% rise in inflation scares the life out of me!

I find it extremely embarrassing that we struggle so much financially. I mean on paper we should be comfortable right. What must people think of us when time and time again we have to say we can’t afford it. Sometimes it feels like we are stuck in a perpetual loop of doom. Friends who are on the property market pay lower mortgages than our rent, some by half (not that I am dissing them). They have stability and each year they own more and more of their home. Over the past 4 years we have paid over £40,000 towards someone else’s mortgage. How I wish that had been towards our own home. I know we could afford to pay a mortgage, we just can’t get one!

So what does it mean for us living on a tight budget?
  • We don’t have luxuries, family days out are rare, and we constantly budget.
  • Holidays don’t exist. We have never been on holiday together as a couple or as a family. I can’t see it happening anytime soon either.
  • A perpetual engagement (4 years and counting). I would love to get married, have a special day, of course on a budget. However, we have no spare money to save anything. Friends who have had beautiful weddings say ‘just go the the registry office’ but would they be happy with that? Why should I miss out on a day I have dreamed about forever? Don’t get me wrong I won’t be spending thousands, but even a budget wedding is off the cards.
  • I often stand in a shop weighing up if Finlay’s clothes will do another week or two or season, I cry when they don’t!
  • Chris having put up with me whining every time he spends some money on himself – sorry Chrissy, I just worry.
  • Me walking around in tatty clothes that are already years old because I can’t justify spending on myself when there are bills to pay and Finlay needs clothes more.
  • Currently trying to squeeze into normal clothes and not wanting to spend on a maternity wardrobe, even Ebay seems expensive!
  • Borrowing money from my mum when we have an emergency like when Milo became poorly.
  • Feeling like I can’t give Finlay stability – who knows when the landlord will put the rent up or sell up. I dread to think how we would pay the admin and referencing fee’s to move which came come up to £1000!
  • Constant stress and worry about when the next bill will arrive – let’s not even mention the yearly MOT’s. I wish we could live with one car, but it’s impossible around our work and nursery schedule.
  • I get anxious over a £5 shop in poundland!
  • Chris and I rarely go out on date nights – but we make up for it snuggling on the sofa with our ‘parasitic’ Netflix account!

Sometimes I get so tired of constantly budgeting, I just wish we could live without the financial worry. I don’t know what the future holds or what else to do. I feel I have budgeted down to the last penny, I have transferred to the cheapest tariffs. We have cancelled nearly all unessential direct debits. To be honest, unless something changes drastically I think it will only get worse, especially with Maternity coming up.  Luckily I have quite a bit of annual leave I am allowed to tag on and a good occupational maternity package! All i know is the impact of a 4% inflation rise will hit us hard.

I haven’t meant to write this post as a whining poor me post. I know a lot of people are in a similar situation and I feel for them. With inflation set to soar throughout 2017 I just needed to vent my frustrations. I would love to hear if you have any budget or money saving tips that I might not already be doing!

Sig

Twin Mummy and Daddy

 

 

 

 

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Black Friday: Top Tips from HUKD

.Black Friday

 

Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year is almost upon us! The Black Friday tradition first began way back in 1932 in America. It remained something of an American tradition until it made it’s way over to the UK in 2013. Black Friday is a day when Savvy shoppers can grab amazing bargains and take advantage of huge savings from shops and retail outlets instore and online. This year black Friday falls on 25th November, a little under a month away. Rumor has it, this year will be bigger and better than ever before. With sales figures expecting to top last years 1.1 billion!

I love a bargain and have picked up some great Black Friday deals for xmas over the past few years. I often find the best ones on the Black Friday page of HUKD. Those who have read my Money saving tips will know HUKD is one of my favourite savvy shopping sites. So imagine the huge grin on my face when I opened an email from them asking if I would like to share their top Black Friday tips with my readers!

 

HotUKDeals Black Friday tips

Do your research: During Black Friday it is tempting to buy items because of the exaggerated savings being advertised. However, sometimes these items can be of poor quality with merchants putting them on sale to clear stock. This isn’t always the case, so always check reviews before purchasing. Especially for electrical items such as televisions and washing machines, to ensure the deal is worthwhile.

Be quick: Some online deals will sell out in seconds, so be prepared and be quick!

Don’t wait until Friday:  Black Friday deals can start anytime during the week before the event. Keep an eye out for details of when and where the discounts will be. This includes the social pages of HotUKDeals where all the insider tips will be posted to ensure you don’t miss a deal.

Keep an eye out for hidden costs: Elevated savings are common during Black Friday but always check for hidden costs. This can include shipping, which can reduce the discount.

Plan ahead: Think about what items you want to buy and find out if and where you can get them. To make sure you don’t miss the items you’re looking for you can set keyword alerts on the free, HotUKDeals app so you get the deals straight to your smartphone.

Check delivery times: When purchasing Christmas presents online during Black Friday always check estimated delivery times so you know they will arrive in time.

Be patient: Everyone gets excited to receive items when they order a great deal online. However after Black Friday some parcels may take a little bit longer to arrive than usual due to the huge number of people purchasing items. If you’re shopping in-store during the sales event be patient with staff who will be dealing with an increased number of shoppers.

Make extra savings: As well as offering a Black Friday discount retailers may have a code for free shipping or an extra 10% off. Search for these codes on deal sharing communities and forums. You may be able to use them in conjunction with the original Black Friday discount to save even more money.

Pay securely: If you’re shopping online use a credit card or use PayPal. If you do use a credit card, use one that offers you rewards such as air miles or vouchers for money off your shopping to save even further.

Question the discount: Retailers sometimes increase the price of an item before a sales event to make the sale look better. Check deal threads on sites like HotUKDeals. Deal savvy members will share their knowledge of sale prices and RRP’s to ensure you’re getting the best deal.

Check the retailer: Some savings will be for lesser-known retailers who may not be Google approved. Always check that you’re purchasing from a safe site. Look at forums where people discuss retailers and customer experiences to ensure you don’t get caught out.

 Be a VIP: Some retailers release Black Friday deals to their VIP members first. It may be worth signing up to receive their emails. If you’re not a fan of marketing emails set up an email account specifically for these sorts of things.

 

About HUKD: HotUKDeals (HUKD) is the UK’s biggest deal-sharing website where over 1.5m members find, rate and share the best deals from on and off the high street every day, Members use the temperature gauge to vote on deals so other users know that the hotter the deal, the stronger the offer.

What are you waiting for? Getting planning and be sure to pop back and let me know what bargains you manage to find!

Sig

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Saving Pennies: Top Tips on saving money and making money!

Saving Money

One of the reasons I got back into blogging was to have a place to document ways I have been Saving Money. Not Just saving money, but also making money. With the hope that one day, I may be able to start working from home one way or another. I realised the other day that while I have been busy beavering away, researching. Silly me, hasn’t actually documented anything on the subject. I don’t claim to be a money saving expert, but my finances have always been very tight. Therefore I have many years experience of living on a shoestring budget (I wish I hadn’t but hey I appreciate every hard earned penny I have!). So I would suggest don’t cut your hair or wash it, wear your clothes out until you get confused for a tramp, don’t…. Only Joking!!

Really, I have been looking into ways to increase my earnings from home over the past few months. I have found many interesting and genuine opportunities, and some great places full off advice. However Until I have a little bit more experience with them I do not feel it right to be sharing that with you right now. It would be the blind leading the blind!! When I am confident in what I am doing I promise I will share everything I have learnt. Until then here are some of my best tips I can offer so far!

Top Saving Money Tips from Southern Mummy – Websites/Online

  1. HotUKDeals – Possibly my most favourite website in the world for saving money. I was introduced to HUKD many years ago and I would say I visit nearly everyday. This site is a forum based site where members of the public post their hottest finds. It not only advertises deals but a number of other relevant money saving offers too. It is easy to navigate through and you can even narrow down your search to specific areas. These include Kids, fashion, travel etc. If I am looking to buy something I always head here to check if there’s a hot offer on anywhere. Even if I’m not looking for anything specific, I always have a nose. I have picked early xmas presents up doing this. My star find was when B&Q discontinued selling sheds in store. They were selling them off cheap and I picked up £250 wooden play house for £64!!
  2. Topcashback – Did I say HUKD was my favourite? Oh its close, because I Love topcashback. You can make money just by shopping! Yes you did hear me correctly! Now the amounts vary and often its only a small percentage, but every little helps. If your a big shopper you will make more and if you by a lot of insurance or utilities there’s more money to make. If like me, you shop little, don’t think its not worth it, Over the past 4-5 years I have made about £500 (and I am a little shopper). The downside is money is not guaranteed, so don’t purchase expecting the cashback, but in all honest I have only had a few declines in all the years I have used it. Follow the rules which are stated clearly on each offer to minimise rejection.
  3. MySuperMarket – A great site for those who do online grocery shopping. You can actually do your grocery shop through this site and it will compare where has the cheapest deals, definitely a great tool if your looking to save money. I don’t tend to do my shopping online as I like to hunt for my bargains, but I do use this site, especially if I have vouchers and coupons. It means I can find where has it on the best offer and combine it with one of my many vouchers.
  4. Supersavvyme – This website has lot of tips, tricks and reviews for the savvy shopper. SuperSavvy has a section for coupons for house hold items which can either be printed or used online. I then see what coupons  there are and search HUKD and My Supermarket – you can guarantee there are always more ways to save pennies! I also love that they have a savvy circle. You can request to join and bid to review items!
  5. Megabotshop This is a bit of a kooky website actually. I think its a bit like Price Runner, where you can pop the item in your looking to buy and it will search the web and list the prices it finds. Its a bit kooky, but so am I, perhaps that’s why I like it!
  6. Camel Camel Camel I can’t remember how I initially found this website, but its a good un! Camel camel camel links to Amazon. Enter the product you want to buy and camel camel camel will bring up the historic price listings for it. It will show you its highest price and its lowest and how long it remained at that price, so you can see if its currently on a good deal. Now the best bit. If your browsing and want to buy at a later date put in the price in that you want to buy that item at and if that item drops to within that price range camel camel camel sends you an email! Now this is dependent on a price drop and you can usually tell by trend if that’s likely. If its never been that price or anywhere near it, don’t get your hopes up. However if you start putting prices in now for items you want for xmas, you are likely to get a few money saving hits before the big day!
  7. Approved Food – I have only just found Approved Food, but it was a find I had to share. Approved food, sells clearance foods at huge discounts. These are foods that are either close or past their best before date. However Best before relates to quality, not safety. The food therefore just begins to gradually lose its flavour and texture after that date. Don’t confuse this with ‘Use By’. Delivery is £5.99 for up to 325kg, but The savings you can make on food is massive and if you live near the warehouse, you can collect it free of charge!!!

Top Saving Money Tips from Southern Mummy – Ways to save and gain

  1. Try some surveys – As I mentioned at the start of my post, this is an area I am new to. I have put little effort in and I have made about £50 over the past 4 weeks from survey sites. I am working my way through a fair through to see what works for me. There are a lot about and payment varies greatly. I would suggest having a play around and see what works for you. When I have gained some more experience I will produce a whole post dedicated to surveys.
  2. Mystery Shopping – Yes, This is great!! There are a lot of opportunities out there. If you cant get out much there are a couple dedicated to online shopping only. Again a new area for me, but I don’t want to put anyone off trying it as it can be quite lucrative.
  3. Competitions – I am the competition queen among my friends. I have been doing competitions for 4- 5 years now and I have won some Fantastic Prizes. To name a few: 46inch Samsung Smart tv, £500 B&Q gift Card, GTEC Cordless Hoover, Sony Smart Watch, Ipad Mini, jawbone Fitness Tracker, Mobile Phone, Toys …loads. I have to state you are not guaranteed to win and winning is usually down to effort. I enter on average 100+ a day and sometimes I can go months without a win and then like buses I can get several in a week. Often Friends will start and then give up because they haven’t won. However its a long game. you have to keep going. Sometimes like recently I will win little, I get fed up and stop for a few months, but I always start again. If you have time to put the effort in then give it a go, you might win some nice treats!
  4. Charity Shops – Love them, clothes for me, clothes for Finlay all costing pence!! Don’t be proud, especially today, people give away nearly new stuff, it is a great way of saving money!

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