How we’re saving cash in 2018

Hello my lovelies,

Want to go on a fabulous holiday this year? Want that deposit for a new car? Then you need to know the secrets of saving big bucks in 2018.

I have some pretty big financial commitments in 2018 and in order to reach my goals I have  put in place some strategies for saving money.  Some of them are pretty basic and some are more involved but with a little planning they’re totally doable.

Food budget

The first thing I’m going to be doing is setting a food budget.  I don’t know about you but if given half the chance, I’ll walk into the supermarket and just pile anything that looks good into my trolley.  When I get to the till I could just about pass out when I realise I’ve spent double or even triple what I can afford.   So from now on, I’m setting a budget!  I know that I sometimes have champagne tastes on a beer budget but setting a budget for groceries keeps me in check and helps me to menu plan accordingly. If there is any money left at the end of the week that hasn’t been spent on food it goes into the savings account or change jar (see below).

Menu Planning

This is one of the biggest ways I’ve found to save money during the month.  Once you’ve set your budget for food, menu planning is your best friend.  Yes of course, we all want to get take aways every other night and cook steak for the rest of the week but it just can’t happen if you want to stick to budget.  If you can go meat free a couple of nights a week your budget will thank you and cheaper cuts like chicken thighs, sausages and minced meat really help stretch your budget.   Check out my weekly Monday Menu Planning blog posts for more ideas.

Cooking from scratch

Need I say more?  You can knock up a tasty spaghetti bolognese for approximately £1.50 a serving whereas buying ready made meals and sauces could triple or quadruple that estimate. We cook mostly from scratch and I’m going to resist the urge to get anything pre-prepared if I can help it. If you’re after some quick and easy, low cost recipes check out Gill Holcombe’s books. I particularly like How to feed your whole family a healthy balanced diet with very little money: and hardly any time, even if you have a tiny kitchen, only three saucepans (one with an ill fitting lid) and no fancy gadgets – unless you count a garlic crusher


Shop at cheaper stores 

While I love Sainsbury’s products, I know that Morrisons and Aldi are better value for money.  I’ve found that Aldi are fantastic for the basics like meat, cheese, basic staples and frozen goods. Their dishwasher tablets and laundry products have won Best Buy awards and are as good as many leading brands.   Morrisons value range has decent prices on pretty much everything else.  I will continue to buy Method Cleaning products from Waitrose when they are on offer.

Brand challenge

A few years ago, I did the brand challenge and was astounded not only at how much money I saved but also, how little difference there is between branded items and supermarkets own brand products.  I save so much money now buying a stores own brand instead of big name brands.  To do the brand challenge, simply buy the stores own value brand item instead of the expensive branded item you usually buy.  If you can’t tell the difference, keep buying it! If you can tell the difference in taste and don’t like it, buy the next item up in price.  I can guarantee that a lot of things you won’t be able to tell the difference between the stores value own brand and the big brand.  You can save quite a bit this way.  For instance, a well known brand of chopped tomatoes generally costs 95p.  The stores own value brand costs 29p.  Last time I checked, chopped tomatoes were chopped tomatoes no matter what the brand was. And switching to the value brand saved me 66p per tin of tomatoes.  We use roughly 3 tins of chopped tomatoes a week which means we saved £7.92 per month.  On just one item!  We’ve even changed brands in our coffee!  Now coffee is no joking matter. I love my coffee and don’t like it messed with.  We always used to buy the Nespresso coffee capsules but now use Aldi own brand and they taste equally as good!

Change jar

Having a change jar where you can dump any spare change every day can save you up to a couple hundred quid a year. Provided you don’t dip into it.   Some banks like Natwest have change machines where you can dump your coins into the machine, key in your account number and the cash will automatically be transferred into your account.  I’ll be keeping a spare change jar and dumping my change in there every day in the hopes of saving at least £100 this year.  I’ve done this before and it’s fairly small amounts of money at a time that I didn’t even miss it.

Account skimming or rounding up

I have two bank accounts which is really handy for account skimming or rounding up.  Basically, you check your account a couple of times a week (I will be doing this every Tuesday and Thursday) and round up your cash to the nearest fiver by transferring money into your savings account.  So for instance, if you had £268.39 in your current account to skim this account to the nearest fiver you’d transfer £3.39 into your savings account.  It doesn’t sound like much but even skimming £5 a week would mean I could save £260 in a year.  Again it’s fairly small amounts that I hardly miss the money at all. Some people skim their accounts to the nearest £10 which would be in the region of £520 a year.   Think I might miss this much over a month though!

Changing suppliers

At the end of last year, we changed energy suppliers and know there will be a substantial savings there.  We’ve also cancelled Sky!  I felt nervous about this when we first decided to cancel but I was so sick and tired of having all these channels and nothing to watch. We were paying £100 a month on Sky!  That’s a saving of £1200 a year!  We have subsequently signed up to Netflix which is £6.99 a month which works out to £83.88 a year but that’s still a huge saving of £1,116.12 a year.  Not to be sniffed at.

There are so many other ways to save money that I’m sure this list could go on and on but these are the ways I’ll be saving money this year.  I’d be interested to know how you intend to save this year. Leave me a comment below.

Bright blessings,

Mrs R



January 2018 No Spend Challenge

Hello my lovelies,

As I mentioned yesterday, January is going to be a long month and I have some special things I’d like to save money for this year.  More on my other ideas for saving money later in the week but for today, I want to chat to you about our January No Spend Challenge.

If you’ve never heard of a No Spend Challenge, the concept is very simple.  In a nutshell, you decide how much you want to spend per week and spend it on necessities only.  Of course, the decision as to what constitutes a necessity is up to you.  You also decide when your no spend starts and ends.  Each family does their no spend differently and there is no right or wrong way although the idea is that you only spend on necessities.

Our no spend rules are simple:

  1. Our no spend starts on 1 January 2018 ends on our pay day on the 20th of January 2018.
  2. The budget will be £60 per week
  3. The only things are spending money on in our challenge is
    • Food – we’ll be using up items from our freezer or pantry as much as possible so only plan to buy the basics
    • Medical expenses (such as prescriptions or essential medications and vitamins)
    • Diesel 

That’s it.  No craft supplies, clothes, shoes, take aways, no eating out (besides a pre-arranged birthday dinner), no take away coffees…

I expect it’s going to be hard going but totally worth it in the end.

Why not join me?

Bright blessings,

Mrs R


2018 Best Life Workbook

Hello my lovelies,

If you’ve followed my blog over the years, you’ll know I’m a big fan of yearly workbooks.  I’ve done the Leonie Dawson workbooks for the past 3 years running and loved them.  They’ve really helped me to get in touch with what I really want in life and I’ve actually achieved quite a few goals including getting my drivers licence!  And yet, there were other resources I have found on my online travels that I thought would have been fantastic added to such a workbook.  I craved something that was all encompassing and a bit… well… more.

So I created the workbook I’d been dreaming about and I’ve called it the Well Being Workbook.

Create the life you've always dreamed of! Set yourself up for a fabulously prosperous and exciting 2018. With the FREE 2018 life workbook you can journal, plan and goal set to your hearts content and create the life of your dreams.

It is based on the types of questions and prompts that inspire deep thoughts and stir long yearned for dreams.  It’s the kind of place where you can get in touch with the deepest desires of your heart and bring them to the light of day.

I can’t wait to get stuck into it myself.  And I can’t wait to hear what you think of it.  I’ve printed mine and placed it in a pretty lever arch file and intend to spend most of New Years day enjoying it.  Download your copy from the link below.

2018 My best life workbook

If you download and use my workbook please leave me a comment and let me know what you think by leaving a comment below.  PLEASE DO NOT FORWARD THE DOWNLOAD TO ANYONE.  Please send them to the blog.  For personal use only.

2018 best life workbook

Here’s to a fantastic new year to you all.

Bright blessings,

Mrs R


Harry Potter Filofax Planner

Hello my lovelies,

I’m am soooooooooo excited to share my baby with you.  As you all know, I’m a die hard Harry Potter fan and with the release of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, my love for the wizarding world of Harry Potter has grown. I’ve had a planner of sorts most of my adult life but this is the first time I’ve had planner peace because my planner now is a complete reflection of me. Introducing, my Harry Po

I found this Finsbury real leather filofax at a charity shop for £2! I know, it was a real bargain. Over the past two months, my planner has really blossomed and come together beautifully. I’m so proud of it.

First of all, my family bought me a Harry Potter themed pandora-knock off bracelet and while I loved it, it kept getting in the way and caught on things so I recycled it into a planner charm for my filofax. I added Gryffindor colour beads and love the way it turned out.

From the top you can see the washi tape paper clips I made to mark some pages. I have tabs running along the top and right hand side of my planner.


My chocolate frog and Deathly Hallows charms decorate the bottom.

This is the inside cover and the first things you see are some bits I’ve collected. The dashboard was made using some scrapbook paper and an image I found online. I added the little baby hedwig pic I found online as a type of tab to help me turn the page.  Of course, no journey into the world of Harry Potter would begin at any other place other than platform 9 3/4.


Tiny Hedwig owl by  Cryptid-creations


I made the paperclip behind the Godric Gryffindor chocolate frog card using a large wooden button I found at The Works.  The Knight Bus licence was made for me by Woozelmom in a swap. Woozelmom makes the most A-mazing themed craft projects.   Check out my previous swap post about the wonderful things she sent me.


On the other side of my filofax cover is a tag from a pair of Harry Potter pyjamas that I got for Christmas which was addressed to Harry. I kept it because I thought it was cute.  I then have some washi tape samples that I use in my planner to decorate pages.  Above that is my miniature Marauder’s map.  I love it!  It was a printable from Britta Blvd and you can find the link to the printable here.  The snitch card is one I got from a RAK from Storm in a tea cup gifts. They do lovely themed subscription boxes. 18033070_10154959681305659_7050404997375769262_n18033343_10154959575120659_1429067500139513524_n

From this view, you can see the tabs are planning, lists and occasions as well as a little peep of Pigwidgeon.18033407_10154959575125659_8659674820507246476_n

Through platform 9 3/4 the first thing you see is of course a Hogwarts Express ticket and my personal information that I’ve blanked out.  I figured that if my planner got lost I’d be distraught and would hope that someone would contact me to give it back.

I’ve also added mine and my daughter’s vital information such as allergies and medication that we take.  God forbid, we are ever in an accident, our information, along with my husband’s contact details are printed there as an emergency contact. Inked17992330_10154959575250659_211426713908378420_n_LI

Then comes the Hogwarts express which naturally follows on if you go through the barrier at Platform 9 3/4. I love the Hogwarts silhouette tab on the right of the page.


On the back of the Hogwarts Express poster, I keep my owl sticky notes and tabs and my main goals for the year.


The next first actual section is my planning section. This seems like a subject Hermione Granger would be adept at which is why I place a picture of her here. Again, I found this online through searching Google images here .


Turning the page, there’s a quote from Ron Weasley, who was talking about Hermione at the time and then my lunar calendar. Most people think I’m crazy logging the lunar cycle but I find that the cycle of the moon really has an affect on my moods.


The pages that follow include dates for the academic year, weekly prompts for when I’m planning my week, yearly calendar, my future log page where I write down all events and dates to remember as I find out about them, my perpetual calendar and my Yearly planner calendar pictured below.

The Knight Bus ticket was another gift from Woozelmom and I’ve laminated it to keep it nice.


This Dumbledore quote is on the other side of my weekly prompts list and next to my future log pages.


My favourite picture of Newt Scamander graces the list section divider.


And one of my favourite moments of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them is on the other side of Newt along with my to do list pages.  Link here.18010873_10154959576245659_966801931237913801_n

My brain dump pages follow on from the To Do List pages. Don’t you love my pencil wand? I made it using a pencil, hog glue and paint. 18010264_10154959576395659_5625836229883820987_n

The occasions divider where I can plan any entertaining we are doing, birthday parties etc.


Another Dumbledore quote and some birthday plans for my daughter’s birthday party.


The next section is dedicated to my pen pals and contains their addresses and a log of letters written and received.  I love the little tab topper of Pigwidgeon. Hogsmeade poster here.


One of my favourite characters and quotes from the series along with my pen pal letters sent and received log. Picture here18033369_10154959576955659_6019791198061277798_n

The next section is a where my daily planner pages start. The photograph was taken when my daughter and I visited Platform 9 3/4


A map of Hogwarts follows and then it’s my monthly goals.  I like to set out my monthly goals along with my weekly intentions. More on those pages to follow.


Here are my page per day pages.  I created them in powerpoint where all my pages are created.  I love how my page marker turned out. It has my morning and evening routines printed on it.


My weekly intentions page is for things that I intend to get done during the week. I like the term intentions better than to do list.


My finance section comes next. The snitch picture can be found on etsy here.


Another Dumbledore quote found here.


I haven’t shown my budget which is personal but I have shown some blank expenses pages and online purchase log pages.  I’m not sure about you but I sometimes forget what I’ve ordered especially if the items will take weeks to arrive such as some items ordered from China.  My purchase log keeps me updates of what is still to arrive.


My personal section comes next.


My transfiguration (weight loss measurements) come next and there are a few of these pages to help keep me on track. I adore Luna. I can’t find where I got this picture from but if you come across it please message me and I’ll give all due credit.


Then there’s my cosmic ordering pages come next – they’re basically manifestation pages by another name.  If you are unfamiliar with the concept, check out the book The Cosmic Ordering Service or the website on the link above.


Because my work can take me all over the area, I like to keep a log of where I’ve worked that isn’t my usual base and I have titled these pages Muggle Business.  Then there are pages for the Books I’ve read, books I’ve got on order at the library and books I want to read.17992308_10154959578085659_6157492901752482001_n


Next comes The Burrow which is Swish cottage or our home.

18010918_10154959578265659_1785343001097437560_n (1)

I keep things pertaining to our home here such a cleaning schedules, family schedules, details on family members such as clothing sizes and needs, wish lists etc.  Gryffindor poster can be found here17991900_10154959578405659_518650383477173535_n18010260_10154959578550659_4662343018696252841_n

Then there’s menu planning.  This adorable owl pic can be found here.


I plan my weekly menu here along with any shopping that needs to be done. Again, I can’t remember where I got this picture from but if you know the source please let me know.


Next comes my freezer, fridge and freezer inventories17952922_10154959583705659_2815238831386430107_n18033342_10154959584160659_3932955183703183554_n

There is also a page for writing down items I need to stock up on.

The last section is for writing where I keep blog post ideas along with my book ideas and notes. I love Vincent van Gogh paintings and this Hogwarts image done in the van Gogh style is just phenomenal.


At the very back, I have a little pocket folder that I made to keep stickers, a couple of birthday cards and my Morrisons savers stamp folder. What would Hermione do image can be found here.


I could go into so much more detail about the way I use my planner but I’ve run out of time!  This has been a lengthy post!

I hope you love my planner as much as I do.

Bright blessings,

Mrs R


Why I’m moving the new year to March

Hello my lovelies,

Spring has finally sprung!  It’s been a little temperamental here in England with one day being the warmest day of the year so far and the next being chilly and windy.  But that’s England for you.


I’m sure you’re wondering why I have decided to change up the entire calendar year that has pretty much stood the test of time.Changing the New Year to 20 March is a pretty ludicrous thing to propose. Of course I’m not going to petition parliament with my request, it’s just a personal thing; but hear me out.

I’m not sure who came up with the idea to have the New Year start on 1 January but it was a pretty rubbish idea.  I understand that life can seem lackluster after Christmas and people need something to celebrate.  Any reason for a tipple!  I’ve got nothing against celebrating the fact that the following day will be the 1st of January.   However, I do have a problem with trying to get anything done in January.  Or February, come to think of it.  They are rubbish months where morale is low and I don’t know about you but I feel my worst in these months.

Most people decided to crack on with New Year’s resolutions in January and almost every single person I know has failed to start a new regime at this time of year.  Think about it for a minute.  The weather is crap. It’s cold, it’s miserable and gray.  You don’t feel like starting anything new. You don’t feel optimistic or in any right frame of mind to make life changes.  It’s a grim time of year to be doing anything besides getting your Hygge on. So what do we do?  We write a list of all the things we want to change in our lives and within a week, we feel like useless wretches because we haven’t been able to even start on the goals we set ourselves. Can you say counterproductive?

I don’t know about you but the closer I get to Spring which is mid March, the more optimistic I feel.  The sun shines brighter, the days are getting longer and suddenly, I feel more energetic. I feel optimistic.  I feel ready to start doing the things I’ve been meaning to.  See what I mean?  It just makes sense!

Just after Christmas is the best time to start thinking about the things you want to change. January and February are the time to finalize that list of changes and to get ready.  Wanna get fit?  Buy those new trainers in January.  Wanna start eating healthy? Do your research so come March, you’re good to go!

Who is with me?

Bright blessings

Mrs R




The highs and lows of February

Hello my lovelies,

Ah! February…. the flowers are starting to bloom and there’s been a few warmer days.  What a lovely time of year!

It’s been a heck of a month and there have been a lot of changes here at swish cottage. We now have a working shower! Of course the rest of the bathroom is still in a state of renovation but this is progress indeed. And, after 10 years of using power showers with their piddly water flow, I’m IN LOVE with my new rainfall shower with decent plumbing and water pressure.  Papa R (DH) is my hero!


I started this ‘highs and lows’ post series last month and thought I’d keep up with it as a debriefing and forecast of next month’s goals.

You will remember my insomniac state from the beginning of February, so it’s little wonder I did not set myself any overly ambitious goals.

February’s goals:

1. Schedule in passport renewal – not yet scheduled in for various reasons.

2. Schedule in date night – date night was a lovely success and well deserved by Papa R and I. We had a lovely memory lane dinner.

3.  Plan half term plans and activities – our half term was full of activity and fun thanks to so forward planning.

4. Remove wall paper from the hallway – thank godness our hidious 1960’s wallpaper has been removed!

5. Work on DD’s Disney autograph book – I’ve been working on it and it’s looking great! I’m hoping to print it and paste the pages into the notebook I bought soon.

6. Send out ‘save the date’ cards for DD’s birthday.

I have a confession to make.  I did not complete all my goals for this month.  There were two other items on my list that I did not get around to completing.

They were to complete a tiki shirt that I’d cut from a dress and I’ll post pictures when it’s completed. I also set out to complete two more chapters of the novel I’ve been writing for the past 6 years but that didn’t get done either.  Of course, that’s the nature of renovation and life with a young child and I refuse to beat myself up about it.   There are mommy bloggers out there who would lie and not tell you they’d set these goals and not completed them but I don’t see the point in deluding myself.

I dropped the 2 lbs I gained so I’m back at a 6 lb weight loss for this year.  Not ideal because I had hoped to drop 5 lbs per month but I have to be proud of what I’ve achieved so far while I live my life. I’ve not given up and I am trying to stay on top of it and that’s all anyone can do.

And onto my:

Goals for March

1. Complete tiki shirt

2. Solidify plans for Disney including crafts – print. Possibly buy fabric and supplies

3. Complete autograph album

4. Solidify plans for DD’s birthday party – print

5. Plan date night for March – Home cinema night

6. Mary Poppins costume for DD’s book day at school  (20 March)

7. Paint bathroom! I’m sure the bathroom will be most of the way finished by the end of March…. I hope!

Do you do monthly goal reviews?

Bright blessings,

Mama R



The highs and lows of January

January was a more spirited month than than I’ve had for a January in years.

The dreaded Winter blues hadn’t caught up with me (at that stage) and I had goals and plans that were burning a hole in my brain.  I had to get started and boy did I!

After I got a hold of my Shining 2015 year planner from Leonie Dawson and I plotted out some of my year I felt great.

I had a whole list of mini goals for January.  And I achieved them all!

  1. Set financial goals for 2015
  2. Find meditations to listen to – I found them but haven’t listened to them yet!
  3. Schedule in exercise – I scheduled it in but didn’t actually do any yet!
  4. Put goals onto a bookmark and place in my planner – it’s working well
  5. Make advances with my shining 2015 year planner – I’m almost done!
  6. Print Christmas photographs – Our Christmas picture album has been updated and is looking great
  7. Start 1MAD diet – I started but stopped after a few days but then started on my own plan
  8. Homework planning – I have some great educational stuff planned for my daughter’s homework
  9. Endeavour to be calmer with my daughter and not use yelling as my go to parenting tool – I think I’m getting better!
  10. Update family cookbook – done!
  11. Declutter tupperware cupboard – done!
  12. Arrange birthday coffee and cake morning – it was lovely!
  13. Schedule in date night – done!
  14. Date my daughter – we had a lovely posh tea at a local vintage tea room

I’m quite proud of my achievements in January. It was a pretty hectic month with the things going on but for the first time in a few years I didn’t get the dreaded Winter Blues.

I even dropped 6 lbs! Woo hoo!

Enter February.

And guess what…. I’ve just realised that lack of sleep can catapault you into the winter blues.

For no reason that I can fathom, I am struggling with insomnia.  For the past two and a half weeks.  This is despite taking an over-the-counter one a night sleeping pill.  I find I battle to get to sleep and if I do sleep for a bit I wake up and can’t get back to sleep. If I do sleep, it’s a really shallow sleep – kind of like 40 winks.  Anyway, lack of sleep is causing me no end of trouble. My energy levels are screwed and I’m craving coffee, carbs and sugar just to stay awake. Nevermind having enough energy to get doing half of what I’ve got to be doing.

Hence why I’m sitting on the sofa, typing this and watching Death in Paradise having just scoffed toasted crumpets with butter and jam and a giant cup of coffee!

It’s no wonder then that I’ve gained 2 lbs.

Of course, thinking about it, I haven’t set out my goals for February. I can hardly think straight from tiredness.  Maybe I should make another giant cup of coffee and goal set. It might spur me into action.

Bright blessings,

Mama R