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Thirteen for thirteen!

1 Jan

Resolutions for a brighter, healthier and smoother 2013 (and a few apps that may help!)

With the new year at the doorstep I’m excited for the chance to turn over a new leaf and start the new year on a high. I’m going to use the theory that, the more resolutions I take on, the higher probability of personal improvements. Even if a few of them do fall by the wayside… I’ll still have some left going strong!

So for the new year 2013 here are 13 fab new years resolution ideas to inspire you…


1. Get active!

“If exercise were a pill, it would be one of the most cost-effective drugs ever invented”.


Make a health pledge to be more active. Find out how you could benefit from being more physically active- and get on it!

How to get started?

Do this simple fitness assessment to find out if youre doing enough and find out if you’re a healthy weight whilst getting some personal advice here.

If necessary you can get help to lose weight using these fab NHS tips.

Take part in the Couch to 5k Running Plan for absolute beginners (you gotta start somewhere!) No costly equipment needed! Or if running isn’t your thing and if youre unsure of which activity to do then use this handy tool to help match you to your ideal sport.

If you can swap the car for walking some journeys then this is an excellent way to introduce more activity into your day. Walking isn’t really an option for me as the kids are a handful even with a car and the weather is crap so I would look a mess by the time I got to work! I also imagine I would be late practically every day. Besides it is probably useful to get my money’s worth from the very expensive car insurance and tax costs I’m currently paying to have my car on the road in the first place.

For extra motivation on getting active you can sign up to the Change For Life resolution booster!

2. Eat well


There’s not much point being active if you still eat badly. So find out if you’re a healthy eater using this test and if you’re not then try to start shopping better. The mind instantly assumes that healthy food will cost more but rest assured that this can still be done on a budget. I’m going to do a weekly (healthy) online food shop with Tesco or Asda as it takes the stress and avoidance out of doing a food shop with the kids. I think this will also stop that urge you get in the shop to buy junk. There’s actually a lot of every day tasks that can be done online to save time.

I like the idea of doing food swaps for healthier choices and finding out what the food labels actually mean so that I can start to make better choices in what I buy.

I will definitely use the 8 tips for a healthy diet for guidance and I also will create a 5-a-day meal planner and shopping list to introduce better foods into our daily life!

For January I will take multivitamins daily until my health improves and stop having them when I know that my new diet is definitely giving me everything that I need.

3. Cut down on bad stuff

Assorted Junk Food

Namely coffee and junk food. First of all despite my love of all things coffee I do need to cut down on this as I binge drink daily. It can’t be good for me. I looked into the effects of caffeine and it isnt great either. I’m on a 10 cup a day habit so this is a bit excessive. I’m going to cut down to a maximum of 4 a day and definitely none after 8pm so that my sleep isnt disturbed. There are other tips to help you get a good nights sleep in my earlier post on why sleep is so important.

Junk food – We all know that junk food is bad. So I will stop buying it and choose healthier alternatives. I’m under the impression that if you dont have it in you wont eat it? We’ll see.

I will be bringing my lunch to work daily… to stop me from trips to Macdonalds or grabbing sweets from a shop on my lunch break. Plus I will make an effort to eat more regularly instead of just binge eating after work.



4. Sort out your Household duties

Start using a daily cleaning rota so that things dont get on top of you. I have one available for download if you want to use it for guidance.

I’ve kicked this cleaning change off already by ordering a new hoover from studio 24. I recommend shopping with Studio 24 as this also repairs your credit rating at the same time as you pay it monthly (obviously only if you pay on time). My limit on it has already gone up to £795 from £250 in the last few months.

5. Wardrobes like Narnia

Do the major wardrobe tasks we have previously used that include the outfit challenge and a charity shop run so that wardrobes are streamlined and laundry is easier. This speeds up the early morning madness.


Do a full de-clutter by putting everything into correct zones around the home. There really should be a place for everything so that people put things back where they found them. You can sell any unwanted items on Ebay, or Gumtree. Make use of the climb in cupboard (aka the loft!) or the garden shed for things that you will still use occasionally but dont need around all the time.



7. Read More

I pledge to read more – a book a week! For me this will be especially in conveyancing which will make me understand more about my job. This doesnt have to be costly as you can join a library like we have.

8. Get qualified

I also aim to get enough money together this year to complete the cilex qualifications, to become a graduate member now, and then a fellow of CILEX in a few years time.

9. Get Organised


I will be organised using a new diary and a wall calendar. I will make sure I also have correct bin emptying days logged on the calendar so that I dont miss it as this happened too many times last year – me and the tip workers are now on first name terms!

I also pledge to organise my work notes and read up on any things I still dont understand.



10. Bills and stuff

Create a new ‘home file’ and paperwork zone at home for 2013 to get all of my outgoings and bills in one place

11. Be more money savvy

I first of all will use this app as I think it is fabulous! I will work out my budget using these tips and perhaps use this handy planner by clicking on the start button on this page . I will continue to pay my utilities in instalments using things such as the prepay gas and electric meters to stop any shock bills from landing on my doorstep.

I will use these awesome tips on how to spend less and Citizens Bureau Advice on how to increase income in case I’m overpaying anything. I will also make use of any exemptions I am entitled to such as dentists and prescriptions as it will be silly not to make the most of this while it is available to me.

12. Quit take-aways


Not only does this have massive health benefits but financial ones too. You know how you avoid the cash machine so you don’t have to face the lack of money when you know you’re skint?… well I do the same with my just eat account as I don’t ever want to know just how much I have wasted on take away food this past year. I confess that I have it nightly and that is no joke at all.

“Woah are you serious you have takeaways every single day?! … that’s neither healthy nor economical!!!” (Malcolm Trotter, solicitor)

So in a bid to shock myself I work out my money wastage below to see how much of the holiday would have been paid for by pure good behaviour!!

Costs this year:

Number of Takeaway orders in 2012 excluding Macdonalds: 70

x average cost £11 = £770 OOPS
Macdonalds at least 1x per week

52 at average £14 = £728 per year

Total spent on take aways = 1498

13. Quit Smoking


This site is amazing to get you started. The idea is that first of all you see how addicted you are and then you see how much money you waste on it using the cost calculator.

Smoking average 10 cigarettes a day = 36.1p per cigarette = daily cost of £3.61 = £1317.65 per year OUCH

You can help to motivate yourself to give up by looking at how it badly affects your body and when you feel like you’re alone you can read about Real-life Quitters and see that you are not alone and you can do it! If this is the resolution for you then you can get started right now using these simple steps on How to quit now.

I have already ordered a FREE NHS QUIT KIT and downloaded the NHS Quit App to help me make a permanent change.
When the cravings do kick in you can stay positive by reading the health benefits of quitting and find out how quickly you’ll start to benefit from it by viewing the Quit Smoking Timeline.

So why give something up???

To fund a treat of course – a treat for your troubles!

Give it up:

1. whether it’s going out an hour later and saving on beer,
2. giving up beer altogether see the Cancer Research Dryathlon for inspiration this January and consider signing up.
3. quit takeaways,
4. quit smoking,
5. give up the sky sports subscription that you never watch,
6. stop downloading songs on i-tunes that you get fed up of after a day,
7. quit the shoe and/or handbag addiction, you can only wear one pair carry one bag at a time
8. where applicable leave the gym if you never actually go to it.
9. Stop going on the sunbeds it’s – bad for you anyway.
10. Don’t buy clothes if you’ll only wear them once and try things on in the shop so that you don’t get stuck with items that don’t actually fit and end up in the wardrobe for years – don’t deny that this happens (the first step to recovery is admitting that there is a problem :)

And Give yourself something to look forward to so that you dont give up

By Behaving well you should have a treat in the future to look forward to so that you get a treat for all of your previous troubles. You choose something that you can use the money for such as:

1. a holiday
2. a new wardrobe of clothes
3. a shopping spree
4. a new hobby
5. a new tattoo
6. a new hairstyle
7. a car
8. a motorbike
9. to move house
10. to redecorate
11. a garden makeover
12. cosmetic surgery
13. driving lessons
14. a new college/open university qualification
15. or just growing your savings and security

The possibilities are endless. What will you choose?

Useful apps that I’ve downloaded to help me achieve my goals

A. Money App

Budget Planner

“This handy, free to download app from the UK’s leading study skills publisher will help you manage your finances and stay on top of debt. Perfect for anyone new to budgeting, it does all the hard work of number-crunching – leaving you free to relax and enjoy the money you have.”

B. Savings Goals App

The application will automatically calculate how much you need to save each month to help you achieve your chosen goal. You may take a loan, use your wage or save money for the trip, or you may combine those two activities. Define your new goal by tapping the “add Goal” button and creating a new money bank.”

C. Lloyds TSB Online Banking App


“Check your balance , view your latest transactions, pay a bill, make transfers, use it to find out where your nearest cash machine is. ..This is modern convienence at its finest.”

D. Kindle App


“Read more than 1.5 million Kindle books on your iPhone or iPod touch with the  free Kindle reading app. No Kindle device required. Whispersync technology syncs your last page read, bookmarks, notes, and highlights across various devices.”

E. Gumtree and Ebay apps to declutter the home


“Sell or give away your unwanted items using these fantastic apps. Just create your account, list your items and sell, sell, sell.


F. Asda/Tesco app to start doing online shopping so that I dont order take-aways


“Book your slot and start doing your full shop!


The tesco and asda apps allow you to order anywhere you like or even on the go.”

G. Quit smoking App


“Help support you in quitting smoking and counts the days that you have been smoke free. Full of useful tips and support”

H. Reminder App


“Install your daily housework tasks so that you get a reminder to do them when they are due from weekly to monthly set yourself a reminders list with ticks to check off each thing you have done”

I. Sky Go and Sky+ Apps to get the most from my Sky TV package i.e. stop wasting money


“Sky go allows you to watch sky tv on the go from your pc or phone and sky+ allows you to record things on your sky box from your phone which is fab when you’re out and about and want to record something. Get your money’s worth from your subscription!”


Feel free to comment on your chosen resolutions this year!

The fifty bags left dilemma

25 Jul


This is the fifty bags left dilemma where I have a pile of over 50 free goodie bags left and the event is done! Don’t have room to store them and want them to go to their intended recipients….mums.


What’s inside?


• gas safety info
• netmums and orchard toys brochures
• promotional coaster
• st johns ambulance first aid guide
• lil-lets sample packs
• maybelline make up bags
• body shop blusher sample
• mini vosene children’s shampoo
• I-clean multi-purpose cleaning spray

After much deliberation we decided that the best place to donate our leftover bags to is a children’s centre. I called up our local centre (Redvales children’s centre in Bury) and the lady was delighted to accept them. The bags will get delivered first thing tomorrow for the centre to hand out to the mums using their services!

Believe it or not there’s fun stuff to do with the kids that is FREE to do!

26 Oct

You don’t have to spend a fortune to entertain your kids. That is a total myth and there are loads of things to do that are absolutely free!

Children’s memories are being formed all the time so instead of staying cooped up in the house watching television there is always something to do so that their activities are varied and you can help stimulate their minds.


Feeding the ducks



 Walking around your local Park, or woods, is a great way to get some fresh air and let the kids see some different scenery. The walking is also great exercise and saves on gym membership fees!

This can include making mud pies or bird’s nests with grass and old twigs, jumping in puddles, picking daisies and making daisy chains. You could roll down hills, climb trees and run as fast as your legs can carry you.

You could also watch trains go by, collect insects, bird-watch and lie down saying what shapes you can find in the clouds.

leaves, leaves, leaves crunchy crunchy leaves


Teddy bears picnic

 Doing a mini teddy bear picnic in the back garden is a fun and different way to eat lunch and the kids have great fun too!


Visit relatives

 This is free and is nice for you to have a good chat to an adult instead of a toddler. The kids enjoy the change of scenery and you get a nice brew.


Window shopping

 Going into town just window shopping is great as you can have a good look around and the kids can too. They just love looking around at all the different kinds of people and things going on.

The sure start centre (a hidden gem)

‘Sure-start centres’ exist all over the UK; where you can go and get their monthly timetable and bring your kids along to the different group sessions like stay and play, baby yoga or baby massage.

They even operate courses just for parents like cooking or IT and provide a free crèche in many cases so you can all be entertained.

My health visitor gave me a list of all the local centres and if you plan well you can actually go to loads of these groups and fill up your diary!

These centres give mums a chance to meet new friends and they are a great way to do things like painting with the kids as you may not want this mess at your own home!

The kids also like playing with a different range of toys than the ones they have at home.

The women running them are absolutely lovely people, and it’s all free too, which is a bonus!

Task: Your super ‘sure start’ centre

  • Research about your local ‘Sure Start’ child centre and then call up the centre and ask them to send you their recent timetable.
  • Go to a session and just give it a chance.

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Super guide to Bury

(click our map to see loads of local stuff you can do with the kids!)

Benefits calc

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