How to get the Best Freebies with Freebie Empire

How To Get The Best Freebies?

My addiction of filling my mailbox with freebie offers began at an early age. My mother would usually find me cutting out freebie coupons and begging for another stamp to post the letter. The best part of the day for me is the time when the mailman would arrive. In fact, I was so eager to see what I have received as a freebie on that particular day. Even today, nothing has changed much. In fact, I am still a “freebie-oholic.” I am excited when I see freebies in my mailbox and love to share them with my friends and family.

How to get the best freebies online with Freebie Empire


Are you ready to fill your mailbox with hundreds of freebie offers? The latest technology allows you to collect freebies without clipping coupons or mailing the free offers. There are multiple websites that offer freebies – which you can easily sign-up for. These sites will keep you posted on the latest freebie offers on the market.


Here are three of the best places to find freebies on the internet:


  1. “Freebie Empire” is a website that offers a full list of freebies almost on a daily basis – check out their website at


  1. “Shop 4 Freebies” is another great site that is dedicated to bringing the best free samples, products, coupons, and bargains from some of the best brand names in the country – check out their website at


  1. “Freebies 4 Mom” is a site that gives you free samples using coupons, winning sweepstakes, and giveaways – check out their site at


Important Freebie Tips For Beginners

. Never give out your credit card details or social security number when applying for a freebie. It may place you at risk and result in identity theft. Wendi Caetta of says that if the freebie is free, it shouldn’t require any payment at all. Hence, you don’t have to give out your financial information to them. You should also note that there are legitimate websites that offer freebies when you sign up for a trial offer from the company. For instance, there are freebies such as cereal bar samples that you will get when you sign up for a credit monitoring service. Such offers may require your credit card details. Hence, you should be doing your research about the company that offers the freebie before signing up for the offer. Also, if you have to cancel an offer within 30 days to prevent spending money, it is not worth your time.

Don’t use an everyday e-mail address for freebie offers. Even if the offer is legitimate, you will be giving out your email address to a third party. Make sure to create a separate email address for such correspondence. If you create a Gmail address for this purpose, you can forward the messages to your main email account for free. In fact, you can then easily filter these messages into a folder and delete the second account if it receives too much spam.

Filling out copious forms is a waste of your precious time. For example, you click on a link for a sample body wash, and suddenly you are asked to join a movie club to qualify for the free offer. In fact, the best legitimate freebie offers require only your name and address most of the time. The worst ones will want you to sign up with rewards partners for a trial offer that would cost you money if you are not attentive enough. Even though you can cancel these offers before the 30-day period ends, you are more likely to forget that you signed up for them. That way your credit card will be charged the full amount for the product after the 30-day trial period. That is why you need to be careful to avoid such offers when signing up for freebie offers on the net.

* This is a guest post in conjunction with

Does Breastfeeding Really Burn Calories and if so How Many?

Does breastfeeding really burn calories and if so how much?

Does breastfeeding really burn calories and if so, how many extra calories can I eat? This is a question often asked by pre and postnatal women when considering the pros and cons of breastfeeding. There are many anecdotal claims online and in the wider health and fitness community that state breastfeeding burns calories to the extent that it can help new mothers to return to their pre-pregnancy weight. These sources even cite specific daily calorific amounts, ranging from anywhere between 300-500 calories per day.  But where does this number come from and more importantly, is it accurate? This is what we’ll explore in this article.

Does breastfeeding really burn calories and if so, how many extra calories can I eat? This is a question often asked by pre and postnatal women when considering the pros and cons of breastfeeding. There are many anecdotal claims online and in the wider health and fitness community that state breastfeeding burns calories to the extent that it can help new mothers to return to their pre-pregnancy weight. These sources even cite specific daily calorific amounts, ranging from anywhere between 300-500 calories per day.  But where does this number come from and more importantly, is it accurate? This is what we’ll explore in this article.

Is it 500 Calories?

The additional 500 calories per day value is regularly cited in blogs, magazine articles and even the occasional scientific paper. On this basis, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it is factual and that the value was reached at the end of some strong, authoritative research. But you would be wrong! In actual fact, the 500 extra calories per day is the result of a small study that didn’t even measure calorific expenditure to determine whether a woman burns more calories or not while she is lactating. What it actually measured and subsequently reported was the number of additional calories women who were exclusively breastfeeding their babies consumed in comparison to partially breastfeeding women, and those feeding their babies on a formula. On average the breastfeeding women tended to consume an additional 500 calories more than their formula-feeding counterparts, and so the myth was born! To make matters worse, the data collection in this study was self-reported, which is a notoriously unreliable way of collecting scientific information. 

Part of the reason why this myth has been so effective is because on the surface the mechanisms supporting it seems so plausible. If the body is doing more work [lactating] then it must require more energy right? There are two ‘possible’ mechanisms by which lactation ‘could’ help to contribute to a calorie deficit; the first is through its effect on basal metabolic rate (this is the amount of energy burned at rest) and the second is related to dietary-induced thermogenesis (heat production from food intake).  However, the evidence is generally unclear as to whether lactation has any direct effect on either of these two mechanisms.

Research Says….

According to Dewey (1997), women who are exclusively breastfeeding require around 670 additional calories per day. This estimate has been reached by considering breast milk volume, milk energy density and the conversion efficiency from dietary energy to breast milk. It also ‘assumes’ that both thermogenesis and basal metabolic rate are increased during lactation. If therefore a postnatal woman wants to lose weight steadily, consuming only 500 additional calories per day will create a net deficit of around 170 calories each day (1190 per week). Simples, as those little meercats from the TV adverts say!

A modest weight loss of around 1lb per week (or 0.5kg) is generally thought to be safe in the postnatal period. However, is this achieved when most postnatal women report gaining weight in the weeks and months after the birth of their baby?  Research in this area suggests that modifications to both diet and exercise will have the greatest effect and that low-calorie diets are only likely to result in more cravings, increasing the chance of a relapse. Furthermore, a daily energy intake of 1600 calories or less could actually threaten milk production. However, in the case of twins and triplets, milk production is greater and so this base threshold will need to be increased somewhat. In the battle for postnatal weight loss, slow and steady will always win the race.

Look at what you’re eating

Focusing a little more on dietary factors, how is it possible to create an energy deficit when you are sleep deprived, exhausted, hungry and you constantly have a baby (or two) attached to you?  The key here is to think more about what you are eating as opposed to how much. Several studies have revealed that the diet of lactating women is often deficient in grains, vegetables and dairy, which are all food sources that result in satiety and food satisfaction. Ensuring that you eat these foods is likely going to reduce those cravings for high energy and sugary snacks. What’s more worrying however about these deficient food groups is that they are all essential sources of micronutrients, like vitamins D and B12, calcium and iron (Robert-McComb 2014).  Reduced milk production is usually attributed to low protein intake.  Unsurprisingly however, a balanced diet of wholegrains, fresh vegetables and lean protein is the optimum breastfeeding diet to ensure a high-quality and sustained production of milk. Not only will increasing your intake of protein and fresh vegetables benefit your baby, it will also support your weight loss ambitions by controlling your blood sugar, reducing food cravings, leaving you feeling fuller for longer.

About the Author

Naomi Schon is a Registered Midwife (RM) with over 10 years’ midwifery experience. She is also a fully qualified Personal Trainer, yoga teacher and a Pilates instructor. Naomi is currently the lead clinical consultant for all things related to pregnancy and postpartum exercise at Health and Fitness Education (HFE), focusing primarily on their pre and postnatal courses and personal training courses.

Does breastfeeding really burn calories and if so, how many extra calories can I eat? This is a question often asked by pre and postnatal women when considering the pros and cons of breastfeeding. There are many anecdotal claims online and in the wider health and fitness community that state breastfeeding burns calories to the extent that it can help new mothers to return to their pre-pregnancy weight. These sources even cite specific daily calorific amounts, ranging from anywhere between 300-500 calories per day.  But where does this number come from and more importantly, is it accurate? This is what we’ll explore in this article.

References and Further Reading

H. A. Durham, C. A. Lovelady, R.J.N. Brouwer, K.M. Krause, T. Østbye (2011) Comparison of Dietary Intake of Overweight Postpartum Mothers Practicing Breastfeeding or Formula Feeding.

Journal of the American Dietetic Association Volume 111 (1) 67–74.

S L Nascimento, J Pudwell, F G Surita, K B Adamo and G N (2014) The effect of physical exercise strategies on weight loss in postpartum women: a systematic review and meta-analysis Smith International Journal of Obesity 38, 626–635.

J. J. Robert-McComb, Á. García González, L. Carraway. (2013) The Active Female Nutritional Guidelines and Energy Needs During Pregnancy and Lactation 517-533.

K. G. Dewey. (1997) Energy and Protein Requirements During Lactation. Annual Review of Nutrition 17 19-36.

*This is a sponsored post in collaboration with HFE

5 Ways to Raise a Family on a Tight Budget

5 Ways to Raise a Family on a Tight Budget

5 Ways to Raise a Family on a Tight Budget – Saving money is hard work these days. It seems like the cost of living is constantly going up, while things like wages remain frustratingly static. When you’ve got a family to look after, figuring out how you’re going to make ends meet becomes even tougher. It’s no wonder that so many parents spend most of their time printing out coupons and counting pennies.

budget5 Ways To Raise A Family On A Tight

If you’re one of the many families that need help making the most out of their cash this year, don’t worry – you’ve come to the right place. Here are just some of the ways that you can raise your family on even the smallest shoe-string budget.

1.    Remember that Less is More

Since the cost of housing is one of the biggest expenses that today’s families worry about, it’s worth thinking about whether you’re over-spending on your mortgage or rent. Maybe you started off in a bigger house when you had two large incomes to help pay for the bills, but something in your lifestyle changed, and now it’s getting harder to keep up with the expenses.

Switching to a smaller house and asking your kids to share a room for a while might be a great way to lower your costs monthly. On the other hand, if you love your home and would rather do anything but give it up, then you can always consider re-mortgaging to see whether you can get a better price from a different lender. Financial comparison sites like can go a long way to helping you find the right deal.

2.    Make Meals at Home

It probably won’t surprise you to learn that you can save a lot of cash by making sure that you don’t eat out at takeaways, restaurants, and fast-food joints as often. Planning your meals in advance allows you to prepare for the week ahead more frugally, by stocking up on the food you need. For instance, if you know you’re going to have chicken twice in one week, you can buy a bulk amount and split it up into two portions.

The great thing about making meals at home is that you can also improve your healthy habits by ensuring you only stock up on good ingredients. Though it’s important to have a treat from time to time to make sure you don’t go off the rails, you can ensure that the majority of your food is low-fat and nutritious.

3.    Cut Your Childcare Costs

If you’re a single parent, or both you and your partner work, then you might have a hard time finding someone to affordably look after the kids. The good news is that the government will help with this to some extent, but even their support only goes so far. Try to look for people in your friends and family circle who can handle babysitting for you a few times a week.

If all your network is busy, then you could discuss your options with your boss. A larger number of employers are starting to embrace concepts like flexible working. If they don’t let you change your hours, then they may allow you to work from home now and again.

4.    Make the Most of What You Have

When you’re worried about money and bills, it’s easy to get so caught up thinking about what you don’t have, that you forget to prize what you “do” have. If that sounds like you, take a step back and try to take stock of your situation. For instance, if you have a backyard then you also have something to keep your kids entertained. A garden can be a place your children can run around, explore new hobbies like gardening, and more.

Additionally, there are plenty of local places to visit in almost any neighbourhood. Simply look your city or town up on Google and enter the phrase “Things to Do for Free” and you’re sure to find a handful of exciting ways to keep the kids entertained.

5.    Remember that Experiences Trump Possessions

Finally, although it always seems to be the people “with” money that say it doesn’t matter, the truth is that cash really can’t buy happiness. Although it helps to know that you can pay the bills at the end of every month, don’t get so caught up in feeling like you have to have endless supplies of cash to keep your kids happy. It’s easy for negative thinking to lead you into dark places as a parent, and it’s your job to stay positive for your youngsters.

The things that matter most to your children – like spending time with their parents – don’t cost any money at all.

*This is a sponsored post.


My Top 10 Family Foodie Destinations

My Top 10 Family Foodie Destinations

My Top 10 Family Foodie Destinations – If we could travel anywhere around the world based on the foods we’d love to try we would travel to some pretty amazing places.

My Top 10 Family Foodie Destinations

We love a variety of cuisines and thankfully neither of our kids are fussy eaters so we relish trying out new recipes and supermarket finds. So if our bellies were our holiday guide where would we go:

My Top 10 Family Foodie Destinations an image of traditional falafal

1. Egypt

For Falafel of course. I love it. Known as the ‘poor mans burger’. It’s made of crushed fava beans, rolled into balls and fried. It’s most commonly served at breakfast to give people energy throughout the day. We would usually have Falafel with hummus or tzatziki (I know that’s Greek), hummus and salad. We’ve also made our own version of Shakshouka which eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, chili peppers, and onions, often spiced with cumin.

My Top 10 Family Foodie Destinations - An image of Greek Gyros

2. Greece

I tried my first Gyros at a fete type event where there was a pop up Greek stand. Traditionally made with marinated pork, beef or chicken but mine had fried halloumi in it (another one of my favourites). Essentially it was fried halloumi with tomato, onion and tzatziki wrapped up in a pitta bread which would usually be considered ‘street food’. Mine also came with chips that were coated in oregano which were also wrapped up in the wrap. Delicious.

An image of a beach on a sunny day with palm trees and a view of the sea

3. Jamaica

Jerked Pork and Blackened Fish. Chris would be in food heaven in amongst the food shacks before settling on the beach to chill whilst the kids try the local fruit. I’m sure Chris would also have a taste of Curry Goat but he might be eating that on his own.

My Top 10 Family Foodie Destinations - An image of a French ham and cheese galette

4. France

Have you tried a Galette? When we went to France about five years ago now we stayed in Saint Jean de Monts which was lovely. There was a long strip of restaurants and bars which never seemed to close. There were two particular dishes that seemed to feature in every single restaurant and they were galettes and muscles. I’ve never tried and nor do I intend to try muscles and I really wasn’t keen on trying the galettes either. A galette is a pancake made with buckwheat which is served with either sweet or savoury toppings. Now, I’m totally up for pancakes with fruit, lemon juice and maple syrup, but the thought of savoury toppings didn’t really do it for me. However, when we went out to eat one evening we went to a galette restaurant so I had little choice in the matter. The basic galette topping seemed to be ham and cheese with an egg on top but I figured that if I was going to give them a go then I’d better jump right in and opted for garlic mushrooms in a white wine sauce (think vol-au-vent). I was a total convert and tried the ham, egg and cheese which was a fave of the kids.

My Top 10 Family Foodie Destinations - An image of New York Pretzels

5. New York

I have a hankering for New York. I’ve never actually been to America, but having been a huge fan of friends it’s definitely on my bucket list of places I would like to go. I think Christmas time would be my preference and again it would be the street food vendors that would tempt me first. I’d have to have a try of a chili dog and a proper pretzel. Warm, chewy and covered in salt. Yum.

My Top 10 Family Foodie Destinations - An image of a traditionally cooked Indian Curry and rice

6. India

I’d be in big trouble if I didn’t mention India as Chris’ family on his mums side are originally from India. We eat a lot of curries with mild ones for the kids and spicy one’s for us. We love all the side dishes such as Dahl (curried lentils), Chana Masala (curried chickpeas) and Aloo Dum (curried peas and potatoes). Again, we would be in heaven walking through the brightly coloured markets with all the food smells tempting us. I’m not a vegetarian but I do really love curried vegetables and one of my favourites are vegetable samosas which the kids also love as well. Samosas were traditionally cooked around campfires during overnight trade journeys as they were easy to prepare and could be eaten cold en route.

My Top 10 Family Foodie Destinations

7. Mexico

Oh I do love Mexican food. Tacos are one of our weekly staples. It’s quick and easy to prepare, plonk it all in the middle of the table and everyone can help themselves which always goes down well with families. The beaches look amazing and I can see the appeal for the most romantic of holidays on our own or an action packed family holiday with paddle boarding and snorkeling.

My Top 10 Family Foodie Destinations - an image of Churros with a pot of chocolate dipping sauce

8. Spain

Forget all the cured meats, paella, bean stews and prawns fried in garlic and cut to the Churro’s. Whilst in Spain you couldn’t walk ten paces without being drawn to the churro stands. In the evenings when all the bars were open and the restaurants were overflowing with people, we were surrounded by people walking around with cones of churro’s in hand. Essentially these are just like the warm donuts that we get here but in stick version which are covered in sugar and most likely doused in Nutella. I prefer them on their own as they come which I think the sellers found slightly odd but the kids liked to dip them in Nutella.

My Top 10 Family Foodie Destinations

9. Argentina

This is definitely a meat eaters paradise. Huge hunks of meat, sausages and ribs cooked over an open fire or barbeque (parrillada) and eaten with a drizzle of olive oil or a favourite of ours, chimichurri which is herbs, olive oil and garlic washed down with a glass or two of Melbec. I’d also love to try the provoleta which is their version of grilled cheese and empanadas which are either sweet or savoury filled parcels.

My Top 10 Family Foodie Destinations

10. Italy

Last but definitely no least. Italy is definitely somewhere I would like to go for a grown-up child-free holiday where we can take in the sights and take in the glam Italian lifestyle. I dream of lazy mornings venturing out for morning coffee and pastries followed by a spot of handbag shopping. Walking around the shops whilst not having to keep a beady eye out for the kids touching anything and everything. We could find out from locals where the best place to eat would be which are generally the less touristy areas so that we could sample some of the traditional foods such as Antipasti, Calzone and Frangipane not forgetting pasta and pizza. With baby number three due any day I don’t see this being any time soon, but a girl can but dream!

Wow that’s quite a list now that I’ve written them down and one that I imagine will only get longer as we discover more cuisines and places.

If your belly were to lead you to another land where would it be? Plan your dream foodie destination with Destination2 Holidays where you will find everything from family holidays, honeymoon destinations, gorgeous beaches and adventure holidays.

Where would you recommend as your Top Family Foodie Destination?

* This post was in collaboration with Destination2 Holidays but all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Guest Post: How we cut more than £10k from our annual spending!

How we cut more than £10k from our annual spending, without even noticing!

Guest Post from Ryan Storey – How we cut more than £10k from our annual spending, without even noticing. I have been blogging for a while now at kakeibo about cost-saving strategies and generally living a frugal lifestyle, but it wasn’t until a friend really challenged me on the benefits of these strategies, that I actually took the time to work out the overall impact on our family finances. I was absolutely blown away when I added it all up! There were some strategies that I was really pleased with when I found them, that honestly didn’t amount to much when I added them up over the year, but the cumulative saving came to £10k and I almost couldn’t believe it. I’ve outlined the strategies below so hopefully, others can benefit from these too. I found it very useful putting them all together in one place, like a warm fuzzy metaphorical pat on the back, maybe you should try doing the same and give yourself some well-deserved credit too!

How We Cut More Than £10k From Our Annual Spending

Before I get into the detail, it is probably helpful to have a bit of a background to give these some context. I have briefly outlined our situation below:

    • Age: 32
    • Married with two children – my daughter is 3 and my son is 4 months old
    • Essentially a single income family, my wife stays at home with the kids, but does do a bit of work around pre-school times as a PA from home
    • I work in London and commute about an hour every day
    • I am an accountant, with a passion for financial education, seeing the benefit it has brought me so far
    • I am constantly shopping around and thinking of ways to save money – I treat it like a game
    • We have had significant debt in the past ~ £35k, which we have now predominantly paid off – more on that later…

I think it is important to say that the savings that we make are reinvested in other things, like home improvements and maintaining a comfortable lifestyle. There is a common misconception that living frugally equates to living like a pauper. The key for us is maintaining a lifestyle that we can afford, being more disciplined about each purchase we make, but living the life that we want to live. It is a fine balance, because like dieting, if the life you build is not sustainable long-term, then you are more likely to slip back into bad habits.

The B word…

I feel like I need to start with a brief bit about budgeting and monitoring finances – many people have a budget, but what is often missed is regular monitoring of your spending against your budget, both within the month and following the month, to ensure that you are staying within your means. I see budgeting as past, present, and future.


I review expenditure following the month compared with the budget and revise my budget going forward if things are changing, i.e. fuel prices going up and spending more, I make an adjustment for that. The budget is only as good as the day you set it, you need to keep tweaking it to make it reasonably accurate. I also use this to categorise expenditure and then start working through each item and seeing if I can either cut down, or get a better deal. That is basically how I found most of the strategies in the first place, i.e. being motivated to go and do some shopping around. 


Ensuring that you stay within your means and budget, results in avoiding borrowing money to see you through the month. I update our budget vs. actual during the month at least once per week, and reign in spending if it is getting out of control. This could be a time consuming exercise, but last year I transitioned all of our budgeting and monitoring from a basic spreadsheet, to a cloud-based accounting package called Xero. It downloads your bank transactions and using AI categorises most for you to just review and accept, which has automated a huge amount of this process and given me back about 12 full days per year when I add up the time saving. The subscription does cost me money (approx. £60), but based on the savings below, assistance in keeping us in our budget and the time saving, this was an investment I was willing to make.


I run a rolling 12 month budget and deliberately budget monthly so that costs like holiday, birthdays, Xmas and other big outlays such as car service etc. are captured in the proper months. This helps me work out what I need to save each month to make sure that I am then not short in those months. This also helps me to forecast for other transactions that we are planning and see if it is feasible, like buying a sofa, or washing machine for example. It is better to work out that it is not possible in a spreadsheet, than signing up and realising that you have run out of money!

For more on budgeting, check out our detailed blog post at -> I’ve made a Budget, why do I still have no money?

Our cost cutting strategies – tried and tested!

So, without further ado, here is a summary of our cost cutting strategies in no particular order and the total that they will save us over the coming year:

Caveat: Some of these are specific to our circumstances and won’t be possible for all, but the concept remains the same – if it is a big cost, think about how you could save money, even if that is just changing your routine or behaviour. 

Mobile phones – this is my favourite, as previously there just weren’t really any options to reduce this cost drastically unless you could afford to buy your phone outright (or chose to not have a smartphone of course…). The other reason I have been raving about it to friends and family is because of the way that contracts have been sold in the past does not clearly demonstrate how much you are ending up paying for the phone, which I think is unfair to the consumer. Using, I will have saved £150 on my phone this year (£300 over the life of the contract), but I will also use for my wife when her contract is up in September too, which will save another £50 this year.

Razors and shaving – I was fed up with how much I was spending on razors and shaving stuff, so I shopped around and now have a King of Shaves subscription, saving me £44 per year. It also comes in the post, so you don’t even have to think about it!

National Insurance refund – it is a good idea to check your payslip, especially if you have changed employers in the tax year like I have. I realised that I had overpaid National Insurance by £261. National insurance is often overlooked, as it is not dealt with on a cumulative basis by your employer if you are under the PAYE scheme. I had to call and write to HRMC, but it is worth it if you can get some money back! This is also a reason to run a tight budget, as it will show up when you are comparing forecast to actual on a monthly basis. 

Multi-car insurance – I shopped around for insurance when my wife’s car was up for renewal, exploring multi-car policies and taking into account the £50 I had to pay to get out of the pre-existing separate insurance I had on my car, I will have saved £622 this year.

Parking for work – I commute to work and have to drive to my local train station, parking at the train station costs £12 per week, but I get up a bit earlier and manage to park on a nearby side street (they would all be taken if I didn’t go earlier), saving £500 per year. Who says the early bird doesn’t catch the worm?!

Train travel – I realised that on renewing my season ticket that if I made a slight tweak to my destination, I would no longer need to pay for tube fares getting to my office. It means that I need to walk a short distance, but that is more than worth it considering I will now save £1,360 over the next year!

Lunches for work – I either make my lunch everyday, or take leftovers (also reducing food waste), but on average cost no more than £1 per day. Before I was spending £5 per day, therefore this is a saving of £900 per year.

Coffee on my commute – I have a coffee on the way to work each morning (I’m up early to get that parking space remember), but since getting a KeepCup for Xmas and taking a coffee from home instead, I will now save £400 this year as a result.

Nappies for my newborn son – we use ‘subscribe and save’ through Amazon saving £38 per year.

Childcare vouchers£300 saved on pre-school fees before my daughter got the free hours, by getting the childcare vouchers through my employer and therefore saving the tax on my pay.

TV & broadband – saved £43 over the year, but managed to upgrade Sky to Sky Q and broadband to fibre on BT Infinity – I could have chosen to just get a discount on my Sky HD package instead, which I negotiated down to 50% off, for a saving of £300 per year, but decided to reinvest it instead. Broadband is one of life’s necessities after all…

Home insurance – shopped around for my home insurance and will save £90 this year by going through John Lewis Insurance. 

Groceries – we shop at Aldi where possible, we do still have to get some things elsewhere, but we save approx. £1,000 over the year as a result. Plus, you get a workout trying to pack your own bags as the checkout assistant fires things through at break-neck speed!

Meal wheel – for my wife’s baby shower present, instead of getting baby ‘stuff’ her best friend set up a ‘meal wheel’, which is basically your friends making you dinners and bringing them over in the first few weeks after the baby is born. It saves both time and money, which are equally important at that key time, but amounted to about £100 saved and immeasurable amounts in sanity. 

Hand me down clothes – with our first child being a girl, we would have needed to buy lots of clothes for our son, but friends and family have donated ‘hand me down’ clothes, which has already saved us at least £100, but will save us a lot more over the year as well.

Breastfeeding – my wife breastfeeds our son, which means we don’t buy formula, which will save us about £120 this year.

Leased car termination fee – I used to have a leased car through my employer. When I left last year I was required to pay a termination fee. It seemed high, so I challenged it, going all the way back to the terms and conditions after lots of arguing and doing my own calculation. They finally accepted a £500 reduction due to their “errors” in the calculation. It is important to know what you are paying for and sticking to your guns if it doesn’t seem right!

Nest thermostat and insulation – I had a Nest Thermostat installed last year, which learns your routines and how your house heats up. We used to have a basic timer on the boiler, which meant the heating was always on for 8 hours per day. Since having it installed there have been many days where it has only been on for 3 or 4 hours instead, even over the winter, giving us a comfortable environment. I will really need to run this for a whole year to determine cost savings, but I think this could help a lot. We also live in an older house, which had no insulation in large sections of the loft. I did some research and insulated it myself on a weekend. It cost me £300 for the insulation, but on average savings achieved by insulating your property can be £600+. Therefore, I estimate £200 saving (after taking into account what I spent) to be prudent over the year.

Re-mortgage – Last year we were planning on re-mortgaging our existing property, to reduce our monthly payments, take advantage of the ridiculously low interest rates and pay down credit card debt. We had the house valued as part of the process and actually ended up selling, moving to a bigger house paying off all our debt and getting a lower interest rate. It is important to say here that I used a financial advisor to help me with this process, which I would strongly recommend for any significant financial decisions like that. The result is that overall we are now £300 better off each month, therefore a saving of £3,600 over a year and have more space and a better quality of life. Much less of our hard earned cash goes into making interest payments.

Drum roll for the net total saving over the next year…..£10,318!

Hopefully you too can utilise some of these and make savings yourself. Are there any great cost saving strategies that I have missed? Let us know and get involved with the conversation on social media:


Twitter: @puzzlingpieces

Instagram: @kakeibo_gram

Thank you Ryan for your great post. If you have any amazing ways to save money then do leave us a comment with your suggestions or pop over to Ryan’s site for more tips. 


Top Tips for Finding the Best Bed for your Child – Bedstar

Top Tips for finding the Best Bed for your Child.

How to find the best bed for your child

Top Tips for finding the Best Bed for your child – We spend a third of our lives in bed. Sleep is incredibly important in terms of bodily repair and regeneration, and in terms of the lives of young children, getting a bed, mattress, duvet, and pillows that are perfectly suited can provide boosts to the body, mood and brain. However, whether your child is getting their own grown-up bed, or is simply in need of a replacement, finding which is best up to the task can be a difficult thing to ascertain. To help out, we came up with a few useful tips to point you in the correct direction!


This is perhaps the most important tip in this article, as if your child’s bed is of the wrong dimensions, issues may arise, potentially making bedtime a chore. If the bed is too small, your child will be uncomfortable and constrained when they are in bed, whilst if it is too large, valuable playing space will have been encroached upon! A good idea is to get a bed frame that is lower to the ground than a full-sized adult bed – futons, for instance – that will make it easier for them to climb in to bed and will minimise any risks associated with falling out of the bed.


Again, the style of bed that you choose is very much dependent on your child and the space requirements in their room. Go through the children’s bed section on websites such as Bedstar with your child and show them all of the different styles of frames that they could potentially have. Bunk beds are particularly useful if more than one child is occupying a room, but can also maximise the space for activities below, if the bed only has a single, higher, tier.


You should ideally try and find mattresses, duvets, and pillows that will ensure your child gets the best benefits from their time sleeping. This means finding a mattress that is supportive of the body during sleep, but that isn’t too firm or spring-ridden, things that will only have a negative impact on your child’s quality of sleep. Duvets need to be thick enough to provide warmth during the winter months, but breathable enough to stop summertime stuffiness. Finally, pillows should be found that combine the qualities of both duvets and mattresses. If in doubt, S.L.E.E.P: Select a mattress, Lie down in a sleeping position, Evaluate its levels of comfort and support, Educate yourself about the options, Partners should try each mattress together (that last one isn’t particularly pertinent, but a useful tip nonetheless!)

Do you know of any excellent beds that are befitting of children? Tell us what they are below!

*This is a collaborative post. This post was originally posted on 27/05/15

5 Ways to Make Some Extra Money in 2017

5 Ways to Make Some Extra Money in 2017

Whether you spent way too much at Christmas or your New Year’s resolution is to be more sensible with your finances, making some extra money wherever possible will be extremely beneficial. 5 Ways to Makes Some Extra Money in 2017 is a sponsored post. 

Not everyone is lucky enough to bring in a monthly salary that allows them to live a care-free life, so saving and finding ways to profit by other means is an ideal way to stay financially afloat in 2017.

5 Ways To Make Money in 2017


You may be surprised to find that there are many ways of making some extra cash here and there — some of which are already right under your nose. From renting rooms and parking spaces to selling jewellery for cash, let’s take a look at five ways for you to earn some extra money this year.

  1. Sell Your Junk via Online Marketplaces

If you’re someone who tends to be a little bit rubbish at throwing things away — which, let’s face it, most of us are — you could be making a decent profit from old things you have no use for. Online marketplaces like eBay and Gumtree are an absolute goldmine to find some cheap deals, and therefore as a seller, items you have in good enough condition to sell will be worth something to someone.

While you may not make a fortune from each item individually, you’ll soon accumulate a tidy sum if you manage to sell enough of your old stuff. Anything that you own and no longer have a use for is worth putting up for sale online. You never know who’s out there looking for some cheap furniture for their new flat, or for some reason have taken a shine to the cuckoo clock that you received from a barmy relative.

  1. Recycle Old Mobile Phones

A new model of iPhone and various Androids are released every year, and many people feel the need to have the new model as soon as it comes out, leaving behind a large number of relatively new phones that become unused. If you are one of these people and you’ve struggled to sell your old phone or haven’t bothered to sell it at all, you should think about recycling it.

There are a bunch of sites that offer cash for old mobiles, and if you have a fairly recent model to trade in, you could come away with £200-£300. That type of money would go a long way to paying off monthly bills or be a nice little addition to your savings.

  1. Sell Old Jewellery

Jewellery is one of those belongings that people seem to hoard, often without even realising how big their stash has become. Selling jewellery can be a tricky task, as without a proper appraisal, you’ll be unsure whether you’re getting a good deal or not. This could well be the reason why your pile of treasures has continued to grow.

If you’re selling jewellery and are looking for a way to get them appraised before money changes hands, seeking out a cash for gold company is a good way to have a precious metals expert take a look at what you’ve got and give you a quote. It’s worth doing a bit of homework, because the higher-quality companies have a price match scheme and will match any company that offers you more.

Postal gold services are a really great way of selling jewellery for cash, especially if you don’t have much time on your hands and want a quick and easy process. They’ll send you an insured, first-class envelope, so all you have to do is put your items in and send it off. You’ll usually get a quote within 24 hours. Simple!

  1. Rent Out Your Parking Space

A lot of houses and flats these days will come with an assigned parking space, but many of these spaces remain unused by people who don’t drive or do not own a car. If this is the case and you live in a city where parking is expensive or scarce, renting out your parking space could prove to be a straightforward and efficient way of making money.

If you live in a big city like London, people will be coming far and wide for all different reasons. One prime example is football fans heading to the city to watch a game. They will have already spent a hefty amount on tickets, fuel and potentially overnight accommodation, so a cheap parking space in the city would be an ideal way to save money.

  1. Rent Out a Spare Room/Airbnb

If you have a spare bedroom that currently has the purpose of being a dumping ground for old junk, a walk-in wardrobe, or makeshift man cave, you’re wasting an opportunity to gain a bit of extra income.

Having a clear-out and putting together a basic spare bedroom won’t cost you much at all, and the potential it will then have to bring in a hefty sum while charging rent is too good to pass up.

Another option is Airbnb, a site that allows you to rent out your living space to people who are planning a visit to your town or city. This can be especially profitable if you happen to live in an area that’s more popular with tourists — and you can even rent out your garden or nearby land for campers to pitch their tents.

Although money isn’t the be all and end all of life, if you ask a room full of people who would like to be earning more money, you would get a room full of raised hands. Finding ways to make some extra cash, whether it’s through selling jewellery and old belongings or renting out a living space, will prove to be extremely useful for relieving some of the stress of bills or other future endeavours.


Bespoke Children’s Illustrations from Scarlett, Tulip & Co

Bespoke Children’s Illustrations from Scarlett, Tulip & Co.

Bespoke Children’s Illustrations from Scarlett, Tulip & Co. It was only the other day whilst attempting a bit of decluttering that I wondered what I could or would do with the ever-growing masses of drawings and artwork that Isabelle produces. She draws every single day, and I’m completely loathed to throw them away, especially now that she puts so much detail into them.

Scarlett Tulip and Co

Mermaids are the thing that she’s drawing at the moment, with lovely long tails with amazingly detailed scales and big booby shells!

Anyway, the purpose of the post is to highlight this amazing new business that was featured in our local paper where local Artist, Sim Dagger inspired by daughter Scarlett recreates your child’s drawings into a bespoke watercolour painting or pen and ink drawing which can be treasured forever. I think you’ll agree that these are pretty special.


Over to Sim, Helen, and Scarlett……

Who are you and where can we find you? 

Hello, We are Scarlett, Tulip & Co, a small family business based in Exeter run by Sim Dagger, an Illustrator and Graphic Designer, and his partner Helen Kidney. They are joined on board by Scarlett-Ivy their 5-year-old daughter and Tulip the family cat.  You can find us on Facebook  and on Instagram @scarlett_and_co  or by emailing us at


What gave you the inspiration to start your business? 

Sim came up with the idea one day when he found a monster drawing that Scarlett had created in one of his sketchbooks,  he decided to draw his version of her monster next to it.  He didn’t think too much about it but when he showed it to Scarlett she was so excited by it, he decided to share it on his FB and IG accounts.  People loved the idea and asked if he could do some for their children.  He offered a few to Scarlett’s friends and shared these on FB again the children and parents were so excited by this we decided to set up a business offering this service.  

We called it Scarlett, Tulip & Co as a thanks to Scarlett for inspiring us, and she thought it would be a great idea to include her pet cat Tulip in the name too.  Sim and I are the Co J.


 When did you start the business? 

We are a very young business, We started the business on the 12th January this year, Sim has been an illustrator and a designer for over 10 years and has a particular interest in children’s illustration and design.

Bespoke Children's Illustrations

What do you offer?

We offer families a chance to turn a favourite piece of their children’s artwork into a treasured piece of art that can be kept forever.  

We create gorgeous bespoke artwork for families to keep forever based on their children’s drawings.  We create “one-off” watercolour paintings and pen and ink drawings that are supplied professionally mounted and framed in a choice of wooden frames.  We also offer an unframed option for those who wish to frame the artwork themselves.  

We take a child’s picture and Sim reimagines them using watercolour paints or simple pen and inks to give them his own twist, whilst ensuring that the artwork still retains the childlike essence of the original picture.  We explain it as not being an attempt to improve the already talented artwork a child has created; it’s a collaboration between the unfiltered creativity of the child’s mind and then reimagined in the equally childlike mind of the illustrator. Sim begins by sketching his imaginations, and sends photographs of the process at each stage to ensure people are happy with the direction of the artwork, when he has approval from the family, he adds the paints and inks to complete the painting or drawing. 

We can work with any image, from any age, our youngest artist so far was 2 years old, and we have created a vast range of paintings and drawings so far, including a dinosaur world, fairyland, a maniacal princess, family portraits, and even a zombie with fire coming out of his head.  One painting had a more poignant reason behind it such as a drawing a boy did of his granny who had just passed away.  

We can also create bespoke artworks as presents for children based on their interests. For example, we created an illustration of a car for a little boy who loved cars, Sim was able to add a picture of the little boy driving the car, personalising it by adding his initials to the number plate.  If you have an idea get in touch and we can chat about what we could create for you!

Bespoke Children's Illustrations

As you can see, they are pretty amazing.

I may have to choose one of Isabelle’s mermaids to be painted for our Family Wall.

If you would like to find out more or book to create your own Bespoke Children’s Illustrations you can visit Scarlett, Tulip & Co through their Facebook Page and follow them on Instagram.

Lisa x