Penny’s Savings 2018 – Weeks 2, 3, 4 and 5

Hmmmm. So that plan of writing this section of the blog on a weekly basis has failed somewhat. Mainly due to a ten day stint of agonising toothache and being somewhat off my head of pain killers!

What I did learn from that little episode though is that if you don’t leave the house for anything other than the school run fo a week you don’t spend much money. The savings are further enhanced when the antibiotics from the dentist don’t allow to drink for a week and at once point the pain is so bad that all you manage to eat in a 48 hour period is two soggy Weetabix. Then again, it’s not the kind of lengths that I recommend when you’re wanting to save money!

The other thing that’s been taking up my time is trying to find us somewhere new to live. Buying a property isn’t going to be cheap, but in the long run it is going to be so much more cost efficient than renting in this part of the country. With the deposit that we have saved up and the price range of property that we’re looking at, chances are that our mortgage outgoings will be about a third of what we are currently paying in rent each month. There are some additional costs that come with owning a home over renting, but we are really hoping that the difference in monthly accommodation outgoings will enable us to put money away into a savings account (or offset mortgage) so that we can be prepared for those extra costs when they come in.

Penny's Savings KidsPass

As far as main savings over the last month, I carried on what I started in week 1 and we had another family trip to the cinema where having a KidsPass enabled us to save a whopping £15.98. That means a total saving on cinema tickets of £27.24 in the month. So worthwhile.

I also made a couple of sales purchases in January which saved me about £8 in total (one being a new swimming costume for my daughter). Finally I also got round to downloading the Wuntu app (a bit like O2 Priority, but for Three customers) and was able to get a free cup of tea at Costa which saved me £2.

In addition to the above, regular use of Topcashback means I earned another £4.79 of Cashback with them (mainly on my OH’s work expenses) and using my American Express Cashback credit card aded up to a further £24.75.

January was also the month that I finally got round to setting up a proper savings account to make the money from my house sale last year actually work for me. I managed to find one that pays interest monthly and make a whopping £47.83 in just the first month.

All in all it’s not been the biggest month for savings after all, but oh how I plan to turn that around in February!

Total savings for weeks 2, 3, 4 and 5 £65.81

Total Cashback for the weeks 2, 3, 4 and 5 £29.54


Total savings for the year to date £387.19

Total Cashback for the year to date £62.26

Total saved for the year to date £449.45

Penny’s Savings 2018 – Week 1

Here we go. Week 1 of my savings for the year. I’m going to try and do a post like this every Monday so I can see how we go week to week. If you’ve read my first post of the year then you’ll have seen how keen I am to save properly in 2018.

Penny's Savings Week 1

There were a few big purchases this week. Mainly because we decided to buy a new mattress, rather than continue to suffer with the cheap one we bought quickly when we first moved in together. We’ve not got rid of the old mattress though as I’m pretty sure it will come in handy when we move house.

Under bed storage boxes (Argos)

Buy one get one half price – saving £9.00

Cashback via Topcashback – £0.28

American Express Cashback – £0.33

Mattress (Dreams)

Sale price reduction – saving £249 (annoyingly the following week another £30 was taken off the sale price!)

Cashback via Topcashback – £22.41

American Express Cashback – £3.11

Board Game (Waterstones)

Used £10 loyalty card and £5.77 of rewards points towards price

Airport Parking (Holiday Extras)

Needed for for a work trip my boyfriend has to make, but still an opportunity to make some cash back.

Cashback via Topcashback – £0.75

American Express Cashback – £0.56

Cinema Trip (Odeon and Kids Pass)

Saving when buying tickets via Kids Pass – £10.26

I bought a £1 for 30 days trial membership of Kids Pass over Christmas as my kids desperately wanted to go and see a specific film in the cinema later in the month and I was trying to find a way to save money on a cinema trip. It turns out to be a good move as my step daughter also wanted to see something when she came to stay. I therefore actually saved £11.26, but have taken off the initial price of the Kids Pass trial. I’m very very tempted to sign up for a regular subscription at £2.99 a month (a special offer I think as they say it is normally £7.50 a month). If we were to go to the cinema with one or more kids once a month (this trip was just two adults and one child) it would definitely save us at least £8 a month.

Cinema snacks

Bringing our own popcorn and cans of drink from home – saving £22.35 for three of us

Panto Drinks

We also took my step-daughter to the panto at the weekend, and made a real effort not to go to the bar before the performance or at the at the interval as we would normally do. In the end I did go to the bar, but only for a glass of (free) tap water as I was thirsty. Estimated saving £15.

Vintage Reels (eBay)

For a little blogging project that B and I are working on…

Cashback via Topcashback £0.09

General spending

As it’s the start of the month, my boyfriend had quite a few work trips to book in advance. He’ll be able to claim the costs on his expenses, but we still can collect the cash back by booking it on our American Express card. If you (or your partner) travels a lot for work, I’d definitely recommend looking into how to make as much cash back as possible on their trips. I’ll soon write a separate blog post on this, but the biggest tip has to be getting a cash back credit card to pay for everything with. It will cost your company nothing more, but will make you some money in the process. If there are going to be big expenses like flights or hotel rooms then it all soon adds up.

Other American Express Cashback over the week £5.19

Total savings for the week £321.38

Total Cashback for the week £32.72

It’s hard to know this early on in the year is this is a good week for savings or not. And I do also realise that the figures are particularly big due to a big purchase, but I’m still pleased at how much we’ve managed to save so far.

I’m also particular pleased with the amount of cash back to date. The combination of a cash back credit card and regularly using Topcashback really seems to pay off. Now what I need to do is put that much money into a savings account and see how it grows over the year.


Total savings for the year to date £321.38

Total Cashback for the year to date £32.72

Total saved for the year to date £354.10

2018 – the year of maximising the savings


This blog had a bit of what I think you call a “soft start” back in 2017. I bought the domain, managed a few posts and then all went very, very quiet. I had a need to start saving like mad, but that was all I could reveal at the time.

There was a reason behind the silence though – the last six months have seen me move house and get divorced, so understandably my priorities have been making sure that my kids are OK and getting on with dealing with all the emotional and physical demands of everything that has been going on. I kept blogging over on my main blog as it was my main income stream at the time, but I’ve not had a huge amount of time to push forwards with future plans.

New year, new start though.

2018 is the year that I need to save like never before. At the moment my new partner and I are living in a tiny two bedroom rented flat. It’s really convenient for my kids’ school and the neighbours and general area are lovely, but it’s a tiny place to have five of us living there part of the time. The kids desperately need their own rooms and we all just need more space. Working from home makes it particularly difficult, hence I’m spending a huge amount of time working in coffee shops instead. And then there’s the battle with black mould that we seem to be constantly losing.

The main thing that we want to achieve in 2018 is to buy ourselves a home. I’ve already sold the house I had with my ex-husband, and my OH is in the process of selling his old house too. Once that is done, we’ll have a sizeable deposit, but as we need to stay close to my kids school (they live with me 50% of the time) and close to his daughter, we are a bit limited in where we can choose to live. And that area doesn’t happen to be cheap.

The plan therefore is to do everything in as thrifty a way as possible. We’re not yet sure how big a mortgage we can get together, but as I’m self employed I realise that they will look at my earnings over a few years and, as I wasn’t working full time, the figures don’t look great. It may therefore be that the mortgage is based on just one income.

We also realise that moving house has costs associated with it already and there are bound to be new things that we need when we move, plus the prospect of having to do work to any place that we can afford to buy.

Whilst going through all this we both want to keep things as normal as possible for the kids. We don’t want any of them to go without, so we need to tighten our belts as much as we can when they’re not with us, and try to make what money we have go as far as possible.

Hence my challenge for 2018 – to save as much money as possible.

I’ve found before that saving goals are so much easier when you’re telling people about them. You’re generally less likely to spend money unnecessarily if you have to declare to readers what you’re doing as you go along. I therefore plan to share my savings with you all here. I’m not planning a full breakdown of every penny that I spend, but I do plan to tell you about all the pennies that I manage to save. Whether that be through buying things we need in sales, finding discount vouchers, cheaper alternatives or cash back offers. I’ve been honing these skills over the last six months and I like to think that I’m becoming a bit of a pro.

The question is, can I save enough for us to set up a family home together properly? I’m hoping that by this time next year I’ll have the answer for you.

House and coins image from Shutterstock.

Five ways to save water

Tap Save Water

On the first Monday of each month I head into Radio Verulam where I appear on the West Herts Drivetime show as their “Thrifty Correspondent”. It’s a wonderful opportunity to share some thrifty tips with their listeners and also means I get to do a spot of radio, which I love! This month I’m going to be talking all about how to save water, and hence save money too. The theory is that if you can reduce the amount of water you use you also reduce your other energy bills too. After all, it takes less gas or electricity to heat the water up for starters.

Once the show’s gone out I’ll link to some clips from it, but if you’re wanting to save water then here are my top five tips.

1. Shower

It may seem obvious, but shower instead of having a bath. And even better still, have a short shower. The “recommended time” for a thrifty shower is four minutes, but to be honest that seems quite long to me. Work out how long you normally spend in the shower and then aim to reduce that time as much as possible.  There are even loads of shower timers on the market to make sure you’re in and out as fast as possible!

If you’re already a shower person, ask yourself if you have an eco shower head or not. These can use up to 30% less water than a conventional shower head – hence saving you even more water and money.

2. Turn off

Whether brushing your teeth, washing your face, or doing the washing up, turn off the tap as much as possible. It doesn’t need to be running all the time as otherwise you are literally throwing money down the drain.

Also, if you do the washing up by hand consider investing in a washing up bowl. Not only do they hold less water than a kitchen sink does (hence saving money instantly!) but also your washing up water is likely to stay hotter for longer in one – another little energy saving measure!

3. Full loads only

If you use a washing machine or dishwasher then make sure that you only ever run it when you have a full load. It’s the most efficient way of running your machine and the programmes normally use a volume of water that assumes it is a full load, so otherwise it’s just more water down the drain.

4. Fix the drips

Talking of money down the drain… that’s exactly what a drip of a leak is. Get those dripping taps and leaky toilet fixed as soon as you can. It may be that you just need something simple like a new washer in a tap and a few pence on one of those can save you loads in the long run. Most DIY stores have some excellent guides now online to help you do jobs like that yourself – just like this one that can help with sorting out dripping taps.

5. Use a butt

If you have a garden of any size then it’s definitely worth considering getting a water butt. You can buy a simple kit to connect a water butt to a downpipe from your gutters and then every time it rains (which let’s be honest happens a lot!) you’re basically getting free water to use on your garden. If you want to go a step further you could even use this water to wash your car with!


Tap image via Shutterstock

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