Honestly don't think I can save on outgoings, so how can I try to make a bit extra cash?

(127 Posts)
gretagrape Tue 15-Oct-13 16:02:18

Hi. First time on this section, but would really appreciate some input. It's me, husband and 6mo and our outgoings per month are as follows:
mortgage and council tax - can't change those!
water - on a meter - £27
gas/elec - fixed - £95
house/contents insurance - £23
phone/bb - £16 (paid line rental in advance for 12 months already)
petrol - £300ish
cat insurance - £16
tv licence - £12
sky - free until December then will be cancelling
mobile - £35
sainsburys - £220-£240 (includes cat food, bathroom/kitchen stuff and own-brand nappies)
abel & cole organic fruit and veg - £60 (only just started this as son onto solids - no more expensive than food at sains but better variety so would like to keep)
That's it - no ciggies, no alcohol, no gym, no going out or takeaways. We walk with the pram if we are going less than 1hr walk each way (petrol is mostly work mileage); 90% of son's clothes and toys are family's seconds, and we probably average £20 on clothes (not joking, almost nothing in the last 12 months apart from maternity wear for me!).
Even with this we are struggling - husband got free upgrade on phone so it was sold on ebay, but we really don't have much other 'tat' that we could sell.
Can anyone suggest any ways of trying to make a little bit extra?
Thanks
x

CunfuddledAlways Tue 15-Oct-13 16:12:27

sell on clothes baby grows out of, I would cancel the organic food as I think you pay a premium just for the word organic, you could use the fruit and veg you are buying already for weaning baby no need to buy special.

also think if you shop around you should be able to get your gas and electric cheaper, hopefully someone more helpful any money making will come along, otherwise I would look into a part time job for you perhaps while your husband is home so that you aren't paying childcare.

AnythingNotEverything Tue 15-Oct-13 16:14:51

No thoughts on extra cash, but I'm sure you can cut your food bills from £300 a month for three of you.

There are lots of thrifty meal planning threads on here - I bet you could halve it without noticing a drop in quality.

Have you already exhausted all the "£15 off a first online shop" offers at the supermarkets?

Awkwardsis Tue 15-Oct-13 16:17:36

I've found sainsburys incredibly expensive. Swap to aldi or lidl, their own brand nappies Are just as good as much more expensive ones, I only wish I'd discovered them before dc3!

gretagrape Tue 15-Oct-13 16:20:57

I'm applying for part time hours in my current job once I finish maternity leave, so once I know the outcome we'll have a better idea of our income but it's not likely to be much different than now as I'm still getting SMP.
Difficult to apply for a different job at the moment as husband works on an 8 day shift so the days I'm available are different each week - agencies have said there's barely any ad hoc temp work and they don't have any companies who will accept someone working different days.

gretagrape Tue 15-Oct-13 16:21:53

yes, did the new customer deals just before our son was born!

Fluffycloudland77 Tue 15-Oct-13 18:43:41

If you go on mysupermarket.co.uk and input last weeks shop at sainsburys you can convert it to Aldi to see how much you'd save.

My shop at sains 3 years ago was £60 for two of us plus £10 cat, now it's £35 incl cat.

When you change mobiles you can get much cheaper deals, mines £7.70 for a free Sony smart phone 500mins, unlimited txt and 500mb. I got £60 cashback from topcashback.co.uk.

Our broadband is primus, unlimited data for £2 (£4 after 6 months), £120 a month upfront line rental and £57 cashback from topcashback.

BrownSauceSandwich Tue 15-Oct-13 19:11:06

£300 per month on petrol? How come!?!

WearingAnUmbrellaHat Tue 15-Oct-13 19:57:34

Can you look on car sharing websites to see if anyone is going the same way as you to work, perhaps share a lift. If you have a drive rent it out if in a premium area. Rent out a room, even if it means having your son in your room. Go to your local supermarket just before closing time and pick up reduced items, may get some weird combinations but could save money. sell any old DVDs/CDs/computer games to somewhere like CEX. Sell any unwanted jewellery. Babysitting for friends/family/neighbours. Delivering catalogues. Paid surveys online (take a while to pay out). Mystery shopper. Ironing at home.

Phew, think I'm all out.

Talkinpeace Tue 15-Oct-13 21:21:49

£300 a month on petrol : so you are driving 1600 miles a month for work?

£300 a month on food : what on earth are you eating. I spend less than that to feed two teenagers, two adults and two cats

Water bill : mine is less than yours and I water my garden a lot

Pop your numbers into here
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AiZqlQ7-gn07dGxTdHVMa3plV2pyeTRWQkRDaml1eEE#gid=0
link here
www.mumsnet.com/Talk/site_stuff/1715581-Cost-of-credit-cards-and-mortgages-the-spreadsheets?pg=2

JiltedJohnsJulie Tue 15-Oct-13 21:43:45

Agree on the mobile. £35 a month is a huge amount, have a look at these sim only deals.

Spent £45 in Lidl today for almost a weeks shopping for 4. Will need to get another loaf (£1) and 2 more lots of milk at £1 each later in the week.

Are you sure there's nothing you can sell? Have you been through clothes, CDs, loft, shed etc?

Thatsinteresting Tue 15-Oct-13 21:53:20

I agree you could change your mobile deal giffgaff do 60mins, 300 texts and some data for £5 and for every minute someone calls you you get an extra free minute.

We used to have a lot of organic food but we also have to live within our means. We still have organic dairy and eggs but everything else just gets peeled or a good wash. We spend £60 a week. There's me, dh and 2dc, one in nappies. I also found that when we had Able & Cole winter consisted of A LOT of cabbage and there's only so much you can do with that.

Apart from the obvious selling stuff, completing online surveys etc any real earn will effect your maternity leave as you can't work and claim smp. Check out the entitled to website to make sure you're getting all the help you can. Do your online shopping through topcashback.

If you're still struggling consider asking for a payment break on your mortgage. You could spread that extra cash over the rest of your leave. We also extended the length of our mortgage to make payments more manageable. However, we do overpay every month and currently we aim to be paid off 7 years early iyswim. It just gives us some breathing space and when I return to work we'll raise the overpayment again. I am not a financial adviser. I'm just telling you what we did. This may not be an option for you right now as remortgaging is difficult whilst on mat leave.

hermioneweasley Tue 15-Oct-13 21:58:17

With christmas coming up, there must be seasonal work available in shops and bars. Can you see if you can pick up a couple of evening or weekend shifts?

Are you checking all your insurances on an aggregator (like compare the market) before you renew every year?

If you're spending that much on petrol, are you putting it on a cashback credit card and collecting loyalty points?

BloodysocksAndGore Tue 15-Oct-13 22:07:01

How many cats do you have, or is it really old? My cat insurance is less than £8 a month for 2 4 year old cats so £16 seems quite a lot.

Agree with Aldi etc. if you are that hard up you have to compromise somewhere and for me that would be the organic stuff.

JiltedJohnsJulie Tue 15-Oct-13 22:12:28

I'd ditch the able and cole. £60 a month is a huge amount, our local supplier does a small box for £8 a week, but at 6 months he can just eat what you eat.

LifeofPo Tue 15-Oct-13 22:19:40

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

You've no car insurance/tax/MOT expenses on there.

Are you claiming any benefits you are entitled to? Why are you struggling - do you have debts?

Talkinpeace Tue 15-Oct-13 22:29:33

on the budget sheet - scroll across to the right and there is room for more columns - or the second one is in fact clear ....

I'll tidy it up tomorrow a bit ....

gretagrape Wed 16-Oct-13 08:25:22

Wow, thanks for all the input! Apart from LifeofPo - I am happy to take honest feedback but don't speak to me like I'm something you just stepped in - it's not necessary.

- Baby clothes - happy to start selling them, although they are on their 3rd baby already so I'll need to keep the price pretty low!
- Food - I think there could be some savings to be made but this does include toothpaste, razor blades, washing liquid, etc so food itself is probably about £180ish. I buy free range or organic meat but I make it go a long way - I'd rather have quality than quantity. So meat is bulked up with lentils, shredded veg, etc - a 400g pack of mince will make us 4 meals (8 portions). I only buy organic meat in bulk when it's on offer, and I'd say 50% of our shopping is bought on offer. We hardly waste anything - I worked it out last week and there was a tomato, a banana and a bit of manky cabbage but that was it. I will cancel the veg box.
- Mobile and phone/bb - we've only just started contracts on these so I'm not sure we could do anything about that at the moment but I'll keep a note of your ideas for renewal time. The mobile is my husband's so I didn't look into it (should have been more of a control freak on that one!)
- Petrol - need to ask the husband about that as I only drive maybe once a week into town which is 6 miles. He drives about 50 miles a day so if you add any trips to family approx 800 miles a month. As I'm hardly driving I haven't kept track of petrol prices so that's defo one to look into. Maybe he should take my car to work as it's only 1L so more economical than his 1.4L. (I know, 2 cars, but I'll be back at work in 2 months and we've had both since new 11 years ago so it's a false economy to sell then try to buy a cheap 2nd-hand later). I'll have a look at car-sharing - might be a long shot because he works long hours/odd shifts but there might be someone even a couple of days a week who fits. He uses the 123 card for 3% cashback.
- Water bill - hmm, not sure I could save anymore - I suppose we are using more with the baby (bathing, washing machine), but we have water butts for the garden and car-washing, and bath water is used for the toilet. Our washing machine doesn't do a half load, but I always try to make sure it's full each time. Will look into that one.
- Selling stuff - there probably are things in reality, nothing valuable, just cd's, books, that sort of thing but I'll have a dig around and see what we've got.
- Benefits - we applied for tax credits but have been told twice that we aren't entitled even though our earnings for this year are below the threshold they put on their own website. I will appeal again and see what happens.
- Mortgage - we can only have a payment holiday if we've already overpaid (which we haven't) - the only way they will allow lower payments is for us to enter into a formal agreement which will still be on our credit file when we finish the fixed term and have to apply for a new mortgage so I want to avoid that if poss.
- Insurance - yes, we compared and got the cheapest deal + £75 cashback.
- Cat - she's only 3, but had cat flu when she was tiny (all her siblings and mum died of it as well) so the premium started off really high. It's up for renewal in December so I'll have a look around and see if I can get it cheaper.
Car tax/insurance/mot - yes, forgot to put those on. Insurance - we use online comparisons to get the best deals - renewals due in Feb so will shop around again.
We don't have any debts, but I got pregnant a month after we bought our house (unexpected, we'd accepted that due to medical issues we were highly unlikely to have children) and I missed out on decent maternity pay from my company because I'd been there 1 month short of their cut-off!
- Catalogue deliver/ironing - that's a great idea as I can fit them in around my son/husband. I'll look into those and advertise ironing service (and actually could do a typing service as am pretty quick at that).
We have considered letting out a room - we've started sorting the house out so it's actually tidy enough for someone to get into the spare room then we'll be looking at doing that.

Thanks again - I will look at all the links you've provided as well to see where we can start to make savings.

Warning about giffgaff though, check what it's like in your area first! DP changed to giffgaff a couple of months ago and he frequently gets times when his phone just won't function, completely stops working and giffgaff don't give a shit. We're in a city too so you'd think it'd be better here!

Watching the thread though.

LifeofPo Wed 16-Oct-13 08:58:36

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

gretagrape Wed 16-Oct-13 09:04:39

lifeofpo thank you for your apology. Feeling bit sensitive as had email this morning turning down my application for part time hours at work so no idea what I'm going to do really.

ZiaMaria Wed 16-Oct-13 09:05:44

Definitely shop around for insurance renewals - I used to work in insurance and it was always new customers who got good deals. It may have changed now, but existing customers were, frankly, milked for all they were worth.

valiumredhead Wed 16-Oct-13 09:15:35

Definitely try Aldi if you can, you will probably halve your shopping bill,I did.

Phone seems incredibly high.

Able and Cole would be first off that list, that's a real luxury and unnecessary imo.

valiumredhead Wed 16-Oct-13 09:16:39

Sorry about your job, that's rotten, hope something turns up soon thanks

valiumredhead Wed 16-Oct-13 09:18:50

Aldi free range chickens are 4.99 which is half what I was paying, if you can possibly get to Aldi then do so ad I think that will be your biggest saving.

gretagrape Wed 16-Oct-13 09:22:28

valium thanks. Will be spending today frantically money-saving and searching the loft for crap priceless artifacts to sell.

aturtlenamedmack Wed 16-Oct-13 09:30:13

I'd google local allotment projects to see if you can get veg boxes cheaper.
Agree that you should maybe swap to aldi for your shopping.
The petrol sounds like your biggest expense - are you sure you can't sit back on that somehow?
Writing down absolutely everything I spend helps me to see where my money goes.
If you add up all the essentials that you have listed, on paper how much should you have left over?
As far as making money goes all I can really think of would be to sell some old clothes etc on eBay or to take on some shifts in a bar or shop.
If you can work evenings your dp would be able to do the childcare.
I work pt evenings and weekends and this is what we do, so no money is spent on childcare. It brings in an extra £500 a month.
I'm in a call centre for a big company and the hours are very flexible - could you look into that?

aturtlenamedmack Wed 16-Oct-13 09:31:05

Also you could look into local food co-ops - they buy in bulk so you get things cheaper.

gretagrape Wed 16-Oct-13 09:39:20

At the moment we are basically just covering the bills/expenses so there's no contingency if anything goes wrong with a car. Luckily we don't need to buy anything big for the baby (eg, furniture) - he has a cot and we have loads of wardrobe space so just use that for all his things.
Just spoke to my husband about the petrol and we are going to look at that this morning and work out why it's so much but he's agreed he will use the small car for work now as that's more economical.
We have two big call centres a couple of miles away so I'll ask about evening work - husband gets home at 8pm when he works but hopefully they would have something that starts quite late.
I've already designed my leaflet advertising typing/excel work so I'm going to see if husband can sneakily print them out at work then I can start delivering them over the weekend!

BettyandDon Wed 16-Oct-13 09:41:40

Once my phone contract was up and I owned my phone I shifted to giff gaff sim only which meant 40 bill became 12! It's worth looking into if near end contract.

Fluffycloudland77 Wed 16-Oct-13 09:45:59

One of our relatives has 3dc, he sums it up as;

1st baby, everything has to be free range, organic home cooked food. Anything else is akin to poisoning them.

2nd baby, they can eat what we are having, it'll be ok.

3rd baby, they start school this year? Really?.

Meita Wed 16-Oct-13 09:47:17

Where we live, there are a few 'cat sitters' around, we use one when we go away, as our cat has to have two tablets/day so we can't just ask our neighbours. They charge upwards of £10/day, for coming round mornings and evenings to feed the cat, administer tablets (in our case), and give the cat a cuddle - maybe 15 minutes x2. It adds up really quickly - when people go away for a week, that's £70 minimum already - and it fits easily around work and other commitments. It might take a little while to build a customer base, but once established, you could have quite a steady but flexible additional income that fits around childcare duties (just take the baby with you) and even around changing work arrangements. Just an idea I thought I'd put out there. You could advertise at local pet store or supermarket and just see what happens, wouldn't have lost anything if it doesn't work out.

ssd Wed 16-Oct-13 09:51:37

hi op, some really great ideas here

one last thing, are you sure you cant change your mortgage?

ssd Wed 16-Oct-13 09:52:57

sorry, also do you have 2 cars? surely you can get rid of one if you have to?

gretagrape Wed 16-Oct-13 09:55:36

Cat sitting sounds like a good idea - there are lots of them round here, and I guess also dog walking.

What is Lidl like for quality? Our nearest Aldi is 12 miles away so waste of petrol unless we happen to be going that direction anyway, but there is a Lidl in town.

Can't change the mortgage without paying £11k early redemption penalty as we're only 1 year into a 5 year fixed deal.

Really grateful for all these ideas - feel really motivated rather than feeling like I'm just stuck in a hole.

gretagrape Wed 16-Oct-13 09:58:23

Re the car, at the moment we've kept both because we both work 20 miles in opposite directions so depending on whether I go back to my same company in January we will still need both.

If I end up with something more local though I will definitely get rid of one and just cycle/walk with pram.

ssd Wed 16-Oct-13 09:59:52

would moving to a smaller house be possible? we did that.

joanofarchitrave Wed 16-Oct-13 10:06:46

Find out if there is a local veg bag scheme which will be cheaper - there's one that drops off food bags at the local school here. If not, try and find out if you could be the local organiser for one?

Take one car off the road - SORN it to save road tax? Or look into renting your car out (google it locally).

Look at Jack Monroe's blog for cheap family food. I think you need to get serious about cutting your food bill.

Buy some second-hand cloth nappies, even if you only use them sometimes you should save a bit.

Damnautocorrect Wed 16-Oct-13 10:07:47

Lidl quality is great, I think their meat is as good as sainsburys so better than tescos and it's mostly british, Veggies are good but seem to have a short shelf life, ketchup awesome, tinned toms brilliant, I've not found anything bad so far.

joanofarchitrave Wed 16-Oct-13 10:09:05

I think cat sitting is a great idea.

Babysitting is also a possibility?

specialsubject Wed 16-Oct-13 10:31:28

is that petrol cost right? 800 miles a month at current price of 1.31 comes out at £160-odd, assuming 30mpg which should be reasonable for your cars (Love these mixed units!)

so either the figures are wrong, someone is siphoning it or there is some really bad driving going on. No offence but so much of this goes on.

intrigued. Any ideas?

gretagrape Wed 16-Oct-13 13:57:20

We're going to write down all mileage for the next month so we can see why it's costing so much.

Fluffycloudland77 Wed 16-Oct-13 14:11:54

There's a massive difference in mpg depending on who's driving Dh's car, I get 60+ mpg, he gets 47 on average. I think he accelerates too quickly but he won't have it.

Lidls good, it's just not the brands your used too and it puts people off which isn't all bad because it keeps the queues down.

Talkinpeace Wed 16-Oct-13 14:15:38

Fuel : I have two large cars that are both petrol. A £75 refill does around 350 miles of motorways and some errands. We drive gently, but DH can do up to 1500 miles in a week so I track it. And fuel varies up to 1.44 in some areas

I do a bit of mystery shopping (on top of regular part-time job) when we need some extra cash. I started doing it whilst on maternity leave 8 years ago and dip in and out, as and when we need the extra money. It doesn't pay heaps, but can work out okay if you do it sensibly e.g. book a few jobs per visit into town.There are quite a few reputable companies if you know where to start looking. pm me if you want pointing in the right direction.

JiltedJohnsJulie Wed 16-Oct-13 15:09:41

We love Lidl. I started shopping there about 12 months ago and its loads cheaper.

KateCroydon Wed 16-Oct-13 15:23:29

Are you absolutely sure you can't switch mortgage and get a lower rate?

Www.entitledto.co.uk to see if there are any tax credits you can claim.

Talkinpeace Wed 16-Oct-13 15:47:07

switching mortgages is a nightmare now - better rates often come with huge fees that wipe out years worth of rate differential

PostBellumBugsy Wed 16-Oct-13 15:59:45

My family & lots of friends are on GiffGaff now. I've been on it for a couple of years & other than a very few small blips have found it to be a reliable cheap option. It is the O2 network, so I often find coverage is better than on my work phone which is Vodafone network.

Sainsburys & Able & Cole are both very expensive food options. Even Asda does organic these days, so have a look around at more cost effective food purchases.

Make sure you are buying own brand for cleaning products, loo roll, kitchen towels etc. There can be huge differentials in price between own brand & named brand on these kind of products.

If petrol expenditure is mostly work mileage, hopefully your DH is claiming for all of it, so you should be able to take that out of your expenditure - as it will all be coming back?

Talkinpeace Wed 16-Oct-13 16:01:00

postbellum
not if its to and from work - never claimable

PostBellumBugsy Wed 16-Oct-13 16:08:33

Oh, I thought work mileage meant driving on behalf of work, not to & from!!!! I know that you can't claim for your journey to & from work - otherwise I would be myself. grin

Preciousbane Wed 16-Oct-13 23:29:39

Could you miss the odd trip to see family? Just for a couple of months. Clear any excess stuff out of your car it means less petrol consumption.

Babies love wrapping paper, we bought our DS a wooden boat for his first Christmas it was 20 quid, they just love the tinsel and lights, don't feel compelled to spend.

I'm not saying become unwashed and grubby but as your on a water meter maybe wear the odd item an extra day.

gretagrape Thu 17-Oct-13 07:45:12

The mortgage can't be moved as we'll have to pay an £11k early exit penalty, plus we're on a low rate now which is why it's fixed for 5 years.

Family journeys - we were due to visit family next week (120 mile round trip) - they are now coming down to us! Christmas we've also said if anyone wants to see us and the baby they have to come to us cos we aren't sitting on motorways with a 9 month old for hours!

Christmas - we've bought 2 little pressies for our son, both in the sales, grand total £12. We've already told everyone else we aren't buying presents because they have our son as a present - he'll never run out of batteries and they can play with him whenever they want!

Clothes washing - does staying in my pj's all day yesterday count?!

Off into town this morning to check out Aldi. The only things I buy branded are Ecover stuff as all 3 of us have eczema but other than that I should be able to get everything I need there.

One question about selling stuff online - I've only really used Ebay, but what would everyone recommend as the best ways to sell things like books and cd's? The books I have are fairly heavy, some art books, so not sure how to go about it as the postage would be hefty - Gumtree?

gretagrape Thu 17-Oct-13 07:58:23

I mean check out Lidl....not enough sleep.

Fluffycloudland77 Thu 17-Oct-13 08:33:14

If you google sell old books a few sites will come up, they don't always give you much though. Textbooks go well, paperbacks not so well.

You can set up an amazon seller account too or sell on facebook. You can get parcel comparison sites now as well as Royal Mail. Some of them even pick the parcel up.

We use laundry gloop to wash delicates, it's only soap, water and soda crystals heated and mixed together on the stove but it saves me money on laundry bills.

Don't forget lidl don't take credit cards or cheques.

MinimalistMommi Thu 17-Oct-13 08:50:37

OP, you should check out Waitrose for your organic fruit and veg and then you can choose exactly what you need, if you actually look at weights in the bags and prices, it is equivalent to Tesco organic but much better quality. I think this would be better value in long term then Abel and Cole. We get all out organic stuff from Waitrose. We don't bother with organic bananas though as I feel the peel protects that to some extent, they are Fairtrade though.

MinimalistMommi Thu 17-Oct-13 08:51:59

Also could you plan in lots of meat free days into your week? Being veggie when money is low is so much cheaper. We feed family of four for £50 a week on organic food.

Preciousbane Thu 17-Oct-13 08:59:48

Back to water metering, do you have a low water use flush loo?
If not the local water board may offer a thing you can stick in the system to use less water.

My family had a water meter years ago when it was unusual. My Mother lived by the if its yellow let it mellow if its brown flush it down and we had to pour used bath water down the loo. I didn't like it.

Aldi are good, there are threads that recommend certain products on here if you have a quick search. It's not fancy and the checkouts are scarily fast, you chuck stuff in your trolley and re pack. I have shallow boxes so avoid this.

gretagrape Thu 17-Oct-13 09:01:16

Thanks both. I have cancelled the veg box - I tend to try and buy half a dozen different organic things each week to keep the cost down but get a range of organics over the course of the month, and I concentrate on things which absorb more pesticides so like you I don't worry about stuff like bananas or oranges with thick skins. It's mainly animal-derived stuff - dairy, eggs and meat really.
We used to have loads of meat-free nights, and now that our son is having decent naps/bedtimes I'm finding I have more time for cooking proper meals instead of endless "bung it all in" meat casseroles, so I have started doing more veggie lasagne, curries and pies. I need to get a vegan cookbook from the library anyway as son has dairy and egg allergy so this should give me a lot more ideas than just doing a recipe and leaving the meat out!

gretagrape Thu 17-Oct-13 09:03:00

Yes have a low flush loo and it doesn't get flushed from 7pm to 6am as it wakes our son up! Then his bath water pretty much covers the rest of the next day's flushes.

Fluffycloudland77 Thu 17-Oct-13 09:15:55

Hugh Fearnly-Whittingstill's veg cookbook is meant to be excellent.

Growing your own veg might be an idea, if you have the time, especially for more expensive vegetables. Lidl and aldi often do fruit canes such as raspberries and blueberries. I was listening to R4 gardeners question time and the panel said you should get 5 seasons out of one plant.

pippop1 Thu 17-Oct-13 11:32:40

OP at the beginning of the thread you mentioned the possibility of getting a lodger. This is likely to be a very lucrative thing to do if you can manage it. Do you know about the Government's rent a room scheme. This is where you can have someone living in your house and you don't pay tax on the income received from them up to about £80 a week. As good as getting a small job really and then you get to stay at home.

LornaGoon Thu 17-Oct-13 11:41:01

OP, here is a list of what's worth buying in terms of organic veggies if you're worried about pesticides

thesaltedkitchen.blogspot.co.uk/2011/05/nutrition-spotlight-organic-foods.html

Also, if you're thinking of changing your pet insurance do the maths first. I changed to a cheaper dog insurance but she wasn't covered on the new policy for an existing condition and got stung for a £250 doggy dental bill. It's worth bearing in mind if those conditions are one-offs, or likely to be more recurrent as the animal gets older as to weather its worth changing insurance or not.

MinimalistMommi Thu 17-Oct-13 12:02:28

OP, Waitrose have lovely creamy organic milk and a nice range of organic cheese too. I used to buy their eggs but get mine from Neal's Yard now as I can get six large for £1.80 which is cheaper than Waitrose! grin

Also do you have breadmaker? This saves lots of money and you can make good value organic bread or use regular flour obviously.

Here are a couple of blogs to gee you up with great ideas about money saving http://mortgagefreeinthree.com/2013/10/meet-man-lovely-white-van/
Also love this blog: http://www.frugalqueen.co.uk

MinimalistMommi Thu 17-Oct-13 12:02:56
Talkinpeace Thu 17-Oct-13 12:53:32

Neals Yard and Waitrose are not likely to be factors in helping OP out.

Rent a room is great ...
https://www.gov.uk/rent-room-in-your-home/the-rent-a-room-scheme
friends have a chap who stays with them Monday to Friday and goes home at weekends - perfick

Selling books : Amazon is better than ebay, Abe books are in lala land

Lidl take debit cards

MinimalistMommi Thu 17-Oct-13 12:57:45

Actually Talk get stuffed!
She said in her original post that she gets an Abel and Cole box that's ORGANIC for her son that's just going onto solids, so it's obviously important to her. And for whats it's worth, you can eat organic and still budget very carefully and be frugal, because I do it every week.

gretagrape Thu 17-Oct-13 13:27:00

Guys, don't fall out! I never expected to get so much help on this and am grateful for ALL input.

I've cancelled the veg box as everyone has convinced me I can still afford some organics - I just need to shop around instead of paying for it to be delivered! No biggie. We will be growing some veg next year - we are lucky to have a decent garden but just didn't have the time to do anything this year with our son arriving.

Rent a room - we reckon we should have the spare room cleared of junk in the next month or so, then we'll advertise - I like the idea of a Mon-Fri one so we still get our home at weekends - great idea.

I have a breadmaker and use it each week as I buy the flour in bulk from a local mill so it works out really cheap.

Thanks for yet more links for me to investigate!

PostBellumBugsy Thu 17-Oct-13 13:38:38

greta, I did a Mon-Fri let with my spare room. Worked a treat. Chap renting only stayed 2 or 3 nights a week. He paid me 350 pcm, which was under the rent a room tax threshold, it was great. I cleaned the room changed the bed linen every week but otherwise it was quite literally money for an empty room.

MinimalistMommi Thu 17-Oct-13 13:44:15

Sorry OP, I just get sick of if the opinion that just because you buy some/mostly organic, that it means you can't be frugal/budget. hmm

I'm glad it looks like you're working out a plan!

Talkinpeace Thu 17-Oct-13 13:48:54

Organic can be frugal. Neals Yard and Waitrose rarely are. Our local organic farm shop (who supply Waitrose) are much cheaper ...

Veg garden : excellent - that will help you massively. Start looking at seed orders now. These are who I get my seed order from tuckers-seeds.com/index.php?route=product/category&path=1

valiumredhead Thu 17-Oct-13 14:16:05

Tbf the OP's thread title suggests things are dire so I do agree that produce from expensive organic shops is a bit of an odd suggestion imo.

To me buying organic/free range is a luxury unless you have access to allotment veg or the like. plus Able and Cole would be the last place I ordered from wink

MinimalistMommi Thu 17-Oct-13 14:16:57

talk you are really lucky to have a local organic farm shop which supplies Waitrose. To people that don't have that luxury, Waitrose is a very good bet for good quality organic fruit and veg with a wide selection.
I'm glad you can actually appreciate that organic can be frugal.

MinimalistMommi Thu 17-Oct-13 14:19:18

valium every week I do an organic shop for my family of four for £50, I would say that is a pretty tiny budget for four people. I even think, if I absolutely had to, I could slash it even more by looking at and working out how much each of my recipes cost me to make.

PostBellumBugsy Thu 17-Oct-13 14:24:34

I'm going to stick my neck out here & say that organic is to some degree a luxury. I prefer to buy organic but when I'm really having to cut back on expenditure I don't. Yes, you can be frugal & eat organic but lets face it, you will be even more frugal if you buy the cheapest option.

If you are looking at two products in a supermarket & know that 99% of the time, the organic product will be considerably more expensive than the non-organic one!

As with all these things, as long as you can still make that choice & buy the organic one - you haven't quite reached the bottom of your budgeting options.

MinimalistMommi Thu 17-Oct-13 14:27:33

post totally agree with you! I was giving the OP suggestions to help her stay organic on the bits and bobs that she would like to eat organic. My budget could go way below £50 if I didn't eat organically, but I'm not prepared to risk my health for it so it's a line I've drawn for myself.

valiumredhead Thu 17-Oct-13 14:54:25

Depends what that 50 includes really, does it include enough for packed lunches, cleaning stuff, loo roll etc or is it just meat and veg?

gretagrape Thu 17-Oct-13 14:58:28

I could have titled the thread differently I guess - it was never intended to be a "poor me" kind of thing, just a genuine request for as much advice as possible. I suppose partly because I'm on maternity leave I don't have much contact with other adults so I haven't really been able to ask for advice anywhere else. We are lucky that we have managed to avoid going into debt and I feel sure that all the advice I've had is going to mean I can actually start putting cash away for emergencies.
Thanks again all
x

MinimalistMommi Thu 17-Oct-13 15:51:56

valium no meat we're vegetarian which is why I can eat in that budget, lots of pulses etc. enough for packed lunches for two children, one adult (my DH has a free hot lunch at work) all our dairy, fruit and veg and all the usual staples.

It does not include loo roll (I buy value packs when I see them on offer) cleaning products not really an issue, a supermarket own brand spray lasts for ages and ages so it's not something we buy weekly.

Our clothes washing liquid gets automatically 'doubled' as I only use half the recommended amount which makes a bottle last ages too. grin again a bottle will last a couple of months so isn't on my weekly radar! grin

valiumredhead Thu 17-Oct-13 18:13:53

Oh I do the half a measure of detergent too wink

valiumredhead Thu 17-Oct-13 18:16:42

I've just discovered Aldi washing detergent which looks and smells the same as Ariel acti lift AND got the Which best detergent award and it's only 2 quid a box. I feel smug every time I load the machinewink

MinimalistMommi Thu 17-Oct-13 18:19:47

Bother we don't have an Aldi!

MinimalistMommi Thu 17-Oct-13 18:21:30

...it might be worth me stocking up on some when I go to a town/city with an Aldi...

valiumredhead Thu 17-Oct-13 18:46:10

And washing up liquid too if you do go! I am VERY fussy about it and think it's a false economy to get the cheap stuff but their stuff is better than Fairy and about 50p iirc. Dishwasher tablets are good too but my best find was tesco own brand dishwasher tabs for 1.60 which apparently are the same as megga expensive Finish ones.

MinimalistMommi Thu 17-Oct-13 19:04:40

I need an Aldi! Over half term holiday I'm going to plan a holiday and stock up, is the washing power and washing up liquid easy to find? Is there just one Aldi variety if you see what I mean?! I'm going to get both grin

joanofarchitrave Thu 17-Oct-13 20:54:35

In general where you have the option I would avoid buying liquids as you are just paying someone else's water bill, so I would go for powder detergents over liquids, and buy as few drinks as humanly possible.

gretagrape Fri 18-Oct-13 09:07:10

Benefits of having a baby waking up at 5am is that I'm making progress already:
Gas/electric - switched to a new fixed deal - price per kwh isn't any less but it will beat all the new price rises, and we'll just work on actually using less.
Cat insurance - just renewed for the next year for £6.79 per month, saving more than £9.....WITH THE SAME INSURER!!
Next task for today is to get loads of stuff listed in local free ads and gumtree (baby clothing, maternity stuff, 3 pairs of curtains from last house that don't fit any of our windows - why have I kept them? Do I think they will grow until they eventually fit???). Less hassle as no postage, then if they don't sell I'll just bung them on ebay.

Takver Fri 18-Oct-13 09:14:31

I'd second babysitting - with a 6 month old you could take them along if necessary?
Plant/house sitting when people are on holiday? My dps used to pay a neighbour to come round and water their garden when they were away (millions of pots so couldn't really ask a friend to do it).
Dog walking? Again might combine nicely with a 6 month old if you are able to carry her in a sling?

gretagrape Fri 18-Oct-13 15:55:29

I think house/cat/plant sitting would be good for this area - there aren't many people below the age of 70 round here so ours is the only baby in the neighbourhood!

Husband is going to be printing some little leaflets for me over the weekend at work so hopefully something will come of them - all I need is for them to find the door of an elderly lady with a cat and a beautiful garden who goes on long holidays and can't stand doing her own ironing or cleaning!!

looseleaf Fri 18-Oct-13 16:15:09

This may make me sound weird but just in case useful, we saved on nappies with not using them or using them part-time (started when DD was 2 months and I just tuned in to when she needed to pee. Google Elimination Communication if interested). even if you only decide to hold your baby over a potty or bowl as soon as she wakes and make a 'ssss' noise she'll associate with peeing it should stand you in brilliant stead for potty training! They always need a pee straight after a nap but the rest take more practice (instinct or with DS he luckily needs a pee whenever I do so I just offer. Easy)
Ours were both dry at night too by 18 months and although there's simply no rush it helps economically & I liked it for environmental reasons plus felt we communicated even more as I understood tiny DD's cry just before a pee!

gretagrape Fri 18-Oct-13 16:25:06

I love that idea! No idea when he does his wee though as he doesn't seem to care how wet he is - several times I've gone to him normal time in the morning to find him soaking wet but he hasn't woken any earlier to bark orders for me to change him!
I'm watching some reusable nappies on ebay that finish at the weekend so I'll hopefully get them and that should start saving a bit (I've read up on it, and the money savings are good even when you cost in the use of the washing machine and water). Also, I've heard they help in earlier potty training as the baby can feel that they have weed more easily than when in disposables.

Fluffycloudland77 Fri 18-Oct-13 18:43:07

Check your councils website, some councils give you £20-30 if the HV signs a form to say they have seen the child in cloth nappies.

MinimalistMommi Fri 18-Oct-13 18:47:21

Greta I love your attitude to all this! you're so positive, just an inspiration!

Takver Fri 18-Oct-13 20:56:37

greta, if you don't get your ebay nappies, its worth thinking about old fashioned terry squares. I had fancy shaped ones passed on to me, but they had totally worn out by the time dd was about 18m. I bought some cheap terry squares + ultra basic plastic pants + nappy pins, and honestly they were a million times better & leaked less (admittedly this may have been because the shaped ones + fancy covers were on about their 20th baby grin ). But of course the advantage with terries is you fold them to fit whatever shape your dc is, not that I could remember how to fold them these days, mind you, luckily those days are long, long gone.

MinimalistMommi Fri 18-Oct-13 21:03:18

Terry squares will dry quicker on the line/dryer too as they're so thin when they're flat and not folded into happy shape.

Takver Fri 18-Oct-13 21:17:35

That's very true - they are a doddle to get dry (no tumble drier here)

ProphetOfDoom Fri 18-Oct-13 21:25:45

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

gretagrape Sat 19-Oct-13 08:53:41

Matilda, no our earnings this year, including my SMP, are £22k - I know that £26k is the threshold, but we've applied and then appealed twice and have still been told we can't get anything?? I'm going to speak to them again on Monday - I know it can't be right, but I've spoken to them on the phone several times and they all say the same.

Joint income after tax is approx £1900 - mortgage is £1010 and council tax is £190. So income is only just matching outgoings and not really allowing to save for car insurance/tax/one-off bills.

Terry nappies - yes, going to get some of them as well - saw some good sites showing different folds for different builds of baby! We're on Kidstart so can get 4% back on Mothercare (I think). I looked into them a while ago but as we were having a lot of problems with baby early on I just didn't have the energy to deal with them.

Got some veggie books from the library yesterday and we had a veggie and chick pea curry last night - even my primitive meat and two veg husband thought it was nice! I'm going to alternate veg-fish-veg-meat each night now and that should make a big difference. Also, I didn't notice how I eat expensive food during day just cos it's less effort - ham and cheese sandwich etc, so yesterday I made a massive batch of soup using a squash and some potatoes - enough for 4 days for the cost of 1 sandwich.

MM - thank you! It is ALL OF YOU who are an inspiration - you have made me wake up to being positive and taking action instead of just thinking I can't do anything about my situation.
xx

gretagrape Sat 19-Oct-13 08:55:43

Oh actually what am I saying? I can probably get the terries on ebay too.

Thatsinteresting Sat 19-Oct-13 10:40:36

Definitely look at second hand nappies but also see what your council offers. Some give you £70 to spend on nappies, some give you a free months trial.

ProphetOfDoom Sat 19-Oct-13 11:25:39

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MinimalistMommi Sat 19-Oct-13 13:00:15

Have you looked at how long you have/will have your heating on this year? (Only having it on at certain times of day etc) Also can you looking at cooking one pot meals so you're not using more than one ring to cook on? This is all stuff I'm looking into at the moment. On the frugal blogs I read I find it really useful to read the comments to see reader ideas. There was one comment I looked at this morning that mention looking at how many nuts of electricity you're using a day and seeing if you can get this down to reduce bills.

Agree about eating cheaper food, being a veggie I'm aware that we use dairy a lot and I know there are cheaper forms of protein (like more lentils etc) relying on dairy is expensive part of being a veggie!

Nux Sat 19-Oct-13 22:44:27

If you look on MoneySavingExpert there is a section on boosting income and you can do things like fill in online surveys for a bit of money/Amazon vouchers etc... It's never loads of cash but it's something you could do when the baby's sleeping for a little bit extra?

JiltedJohnsJulie Sun 20-Oct-13 13:43:18

Agree greta you are inspirational and I'm learning a lot from all of these tips.

Just wondered how much you spend on baby activities? Are there any free or cheap ones at your library or children's centre? Our local nct run a group that meets every week, everyone welcome and its £1 but the donation is voluntary and nobody minds if you don't put in.

gretagrape Mon 21-Oct-13 07:44:31

Phew - busy weekend (not helped by a bit of a wobble - screamed at baby, but as usual MN support got me through).
So, we are listing every car journey - mileage and whether it's stop/start in town or steady/fast. So far results tell us that we must be driving a lot more than we think - worked out that 1 day's commute for husband is £9, so 16 days per month (average, shift worker) = £144. So that's around £150 on non-work driving???? That's shit - I thought I was environmentally responsible, but I think having a baby has made us slack. So, I reckon it will be easy to bring the petrol cost right down with little effort (just more thought).
Baby and maternity clothes ironed and photographed (took bloody ages!) - ready to start listing.
Food - I've listed all receipts for the last 4 months anyway in an effort to spend less, so I went through it yesterday in detail. Average fruit/veg per month = £60. Average meat/fish = £58. Average dairy = £30 (seems a LOT for milk, eggs and butter). The rest is basics/tins/cereal/household etc, but the above ones are the main ones I can bring costs down on.
Nappies - spending £20 on nappies and wipes. Will be buying terries once I run out in about 3 weeks.
Leaflets for ironing/cleaning/typing - husband couldn't print for me for free at work, so I'll put postcards up in local shops and can put an advert in local free ads to see if anyone replies instead.
jjj - I don't spend anything on baby activities! Haven't got around to going to any yet (bad mother). Our library is about 40 mins walk and they do some reading/singing groups so I'll check them out and start letting the little chap socialise a bit.
Busy week ahead....

waikikamookau Mon 21-Oct-13 08:11:16

some years ago I changed my council tax payment to monthly, every month, as at the time it was over 10 months for some reason.

If this is still the case, consider doing the same, spreading it out over the year rather than 10 months.

tugamommy Portugal Mon 21-Oct-13 13:57:47

Apologies if it's been suggested already but have you tried online surveys? They pay 1 to 2 pounds per survey do it dies add up.

valiumredhead Tue 22-Oct-13 14:16:47

Just went to Aldi this morning and realised the eggs are free range,6 for a pound OP.

JiltedJohnsJulie Tue 22-Oct-13 19:03:15

OP did you say that you have a Lidl nearby, or have I dreamt that one?

gretagrape Wed 23-Oct-13 08:25:50

Yes, we have a Lidl. I went in last week to have a look at prices - some stuff is definitely cheaper, but apart from Ecover I don't buy brands anyway so some stuff is just as cheap in Sainsburys as I tend to buy non-perishables when they are on offer to make them even cheaper.

I'm going to speak to council today about trying to spread the council tax over 12 months - that would save us £30 a month which is definitely worth it.

Nappies - council don't do any incentives here - they used to but they stopped it at the beginning of this year apparently.

Fluffycloudland77 Wed 23-Oct-13 08:35:54

That's a shame about the nappy incentive.

Youarejustwordsonascreenpeople Wed 23-Oct-13 09:28:11

Buy everything you can online through www.topcashback.co.uk

Get onto the forums of www.moneysavingexpert.com

Do a search on Facebook under your town and sale to find your local selling group.

Only put a 1/2 to a 1/3 of the recommended washing powder/fabric conditioner in the machine.

Meal plan. Start at a weeks plan, write down 7 breakfasts, 7 lunches and 7 main meals. Write out your shopping list and just buy from your list no extras. I don't have a set meal for a set day. I just choose off my list.

Use a slow cooker. I use mine 3 or 4 times a week and that will feed my five us one for the freezer. I then have can have homemade freezer meals if we are running short on time or if I need a cheap food week at the end of the month.

JiltedJohnsJulie Wed 23-Oct-13 15:49:17

My Dsil is an avid Lidl fan and I shopped in Sainsburys. For ages I said the same as you greta but then things got tighter and I decided to give it a go. Can't believe the difference in spending, it's knocked about a third off our shopping bill. I'd give Lidl a go smile

gretagrape Mon 28-Oct-13 08:16:38

Hi all, just wanted to give an update (don't worry, I'm not going to bore you for the next 6 months - I just wanted you to know that thanks to all of your input I really feel like we are on a much more positive track):

Council Tax - we can pay over 12 months instead of 10 as of April next year which will help, and I'd forgotten that we don't pay Feb/Mar anyway, so that will be £370 less to shell out.

Gas/Elec - switched to a 4 year deal. Also making an effort to use less: heating not on yet and the arguments about it probably warm us up anyway!, washing machine - no spinning, only full loads and only 30degrees, water thermostat turned right down - doesn't need to be hot as only used for baby's bath and washing up as the shower is electric, trying to find slow cooker which is lurking in some still-to-be unpacked boxes, 2 casseroles go in the oven instead of 1, and lots of one pot meals - our steamer ends up like the leaning tower of Pisa by the time all the veggies go on top!

Petrol - one step forward, one step back on this. Definitely using less now that we are recording every journey as we make sure if we need to use the car then it's for several things in the same journey rather than having to drive to the same area 2 days later. BUT we have a family member who has become ill so this is going to mean a 120 mile round trip every week or so for a while, but at least if we are using less the rest of the time we might not spend more overall than we already were.

Cat insurance - £6.79 as of November - £9.80 cheaper.

Food - going in the right direction - no shopping since 22nd apart from milk, and we have veggie meals every other night. I also make 2 batches of soup each week for my lunches so no expensive meat/cheese sarnies. We've got a Waitrose card which means if we go into town and need to feed our son, we can nip in there for a free cuppa.

Selling stuff - got adverts in local paper this week for baby/maternity stuff, shoes, curtains and coffee maker (wedding present never used) so hopefully that will sell then I'll use that cash to buy terry nappies.

Work - no joy yet - no response from postcards but to be honest I've been so busy trying to save money, I should get more time this week to try and actually make some! I've got some good leads on surveys/mystery shopper sites so I'll be looking into those over the next couple of days...difficult to fit it all in during baby's naps!

For the longer term, we've started preparing the garden to grow some fruit and veg - last owners left 2 compost bins so they are now in place, and patch is being cleared to start planting in the spring.

valiumredhead Mon 28-Oct-13 09:10:34

Well done OPsmile

What do you mean you don't spin the clothes in the machine?

waikikamookau Mon 28-Oct-13 09:11:25

glad to hear that, updates always welcome smile

FlabbyAdams Mon 28-Oct-13 12:25:40

How desperate are you? Do you have a friend or relative that could take your cat on. You would save £200 a year on insurance and more on food cat litter etc.

MinimalistMommi Mon 28-Oct-13 12:41:19

greta keep us updated! I would love to continue to hear how you get on. All sounding really positive. X

gretagrape Mon 28-Oct-13 13:50:54

valiumredhead - we can turn the spin function off, so the clothes take longer to dry but as I do a load every other day I guess it saves a bit of leccy over the course of a week!

FlabbyAdams - we don't really have friends locally (apart from ones in flats) and my parents have a cat who definitely wouldn't take kindly to a new kid on the block! The insurance now is £6.79 and food averages £8-9 - the garden is her litter tray, so total is approx £16 a month. I'd hate to let her go as she was a rescue kitten in the first place - I'm positive there are enough savings we can make elsewhere to avoid having to think about her going.

Fluffycloudland77 Mon 28-Oct-13 14:01:59

I'd spin those clothes, the spin cycles cheap. It's the heating of the water that consumes the energy, plus if you dry indoors the extra moisture can cause black mould which has harmful spores.

valiumredhead Mon 28-Oct-13 14:14:28

What fluffy said!

gretagrape Mon 28-Oct-13 14:34:56

That doesn't sound good - even when we used the spin we still had to air dry everything for a day or so. Guess I'll just have to spin a couple of times to try and get things as dry as possible.
Thanks for the tip.

Fluffycloudland77 Mon 28-Oct-13 14:37:39

I'm waiting for some cashback to become payable so I can get a spin dryer. I was hoping one would come up near me on eBay but no such luck.

RUAHall Fri 01-Nov-13 18:25:35

Given that tax was mentioned in some previous posts, I appreciate that the following tips on saving tax might not apply to some people, but here are some basic tips:

At work, check whether you are on the right PAYE code for paying tax.
If your employer reimburses you for business mileage using your own transport for work purposes at rates less than the authorised rates set by HMRC, you may be able to claim tax relief on the difference. The authorised rates in 2013/14 are 45p per mile for the first 10,000 miles in a year, and then 25p per mile thereafter. So if you were paid 35p per mile by your employer for travelling in your own car on business and you travelled 9,000 miles in a year, you could be due a refund of £900 (45p-35p*9000).
If you are a non-taxpayer you can register with HMRC (form R85) to ensure that any interest you earn on Bank or Building Society savings accounts is paid gross in future. You could also claim back any tax paid on interest earned on Bank and Building Society savings deposits. If tax has already been deducted, this can be reclaimed using form R40.
There was a mention of rent-a-room relief in a previous post. It may be wise to do the sums here, comparing the savings in tax to be paid using rent-a-room relief and those in a normal tax computation where allowable expenses are deducted from income earned.
If you or you spouse/partner is a landlord and rents out furnished accommodation, you can also claim a 10% wear and tear allowance when you complete your tax return. This is the income minus expenditure on utilities such as electricity, water rates, council tax etc multiplied by 10%.
If your spouse/partner pays tax just above the higher rate threshold (£32,011 in 2013/14) and you yourself are a non- or a basic rate taxpayer, it may be worth considering transferring any income-paying investments such as savings, dividends etc to the lower rate taxpayer. This may bring the higher rate taxpayer’s taxable income down to a level below the higher rate threshold, and thus this income would then be taxed at the lower rate.

Other ideas for making some money in your spare time:

If you want to use the web/internet to make money for you, and which pays more than filling in surveys etc, you have to be prepared to put the hours in and the rewards might be a long time coming. Many schemes are based on finding referrals and redirecting web traffic to certain websites. If you can find referrals and then they make a purchase on a website, then you would earn some commission on the purchase. For instance, there are the following:

You could earn money on You-tube’ by uploading videos provided by firms and drafting appropriate text to describe the video to persuade others to watch the video – the more hits on Youtube that these videos receive, the more commission you will earn
You could earn money by renting out the idle processing power within your computer
If you are an Amazon seller, you could earn money by enclosing your Amazon affiliate link web address every time when you post an answer on ‘Yahoo answers’

My brother has started a blog investigating some tax saving tips and other ways of using the web to make money – jonnosblog.wordpress.com

Cheers,
Rebecca

gretagrape Sat 02-Nov-13 08:24:36

Thanks RUAHall - I have to admit I am a total novice on the internet/tech in general, spending all day at work looking at a screen meant that I've never bothered with it in my spare time, so I'd need to spend some time looking into all this!

Spoke to tax office AGAIN - no-go on child tax credits. Basically, I left a job at the beginning of a tax year 2 years ago that included taxable benefits (health insurance, discount vouchers) - I was still having those benefits' value deducted from my tax code. Finally sorted but somehow they are saying I still owe THEM unpaid tax (how the f* can that be the case when they gave me a tax code LOWER than it should have been for 2 years. Anyway, it's all totally screwed and they are saying I can't get tax credits. I need to put my baby into a hotel for a week so I can just sit down and get my head around the bloody stuff!!

notagiraffe Sat 02-Nov-13 22:29:56

Hi OP, I do market research focus groups. They pay between £30-£60 per session and rarely last more than an hour or two, with free sandwiches and drinks, and sometimes, free products. Sign up for a few companies and then when they email, reply immediately as they seem to operate first come first served.

I sell tiny amounts of stuff on ebay - only things I'm pretty certain will sell as it is time consuming, but the money comes in handy.

Don't forget loyalty card schemes. Nectar points really add up, as do Boots card points.

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