Save Money, Save Energy
Before I can start my Summer planning I like to sort out our household bills and accounts to see if any savings can be made – this is something I encourage people to do annually and if you have your copy of our free e-book you may have already started. Utilities is always a good place to start as the market is very open, but most of us are too lazy or busy to regularly change our accounts to new suppliers. This often results in being automatically moved on to a Standard Variable Tariff at the end of your contract – which can be costly. This post has been sponsored by ENGIE, and written by Mrs F x
I was surprised (and pleased) to learn that ENGIE have made a promise to always move customers onto their cheapest comparable tariff available when their contract ends. They have called this their Rate Rollover Promise. We worked with ENGIE on Clean Air Day and were impressed by their attitude towards customers and the environment.
The Rate Rollover Promise rewards their loyal customers by always making sure they are on the cheapest comparable tariff that ENGIE offer – rather than keeping low rates only for new customers. I found this a refreshing attitude as so many companies do not reward loyalty, and I usually encourage people to change their suppliers often. This promise could mean you no longer need to keep changing; but can stick with a company that value your custom.
Did you know when your fixed term contract ends most suppliers just automatically move you onto their Standard Variable Tariff (SVT)?
This is not likely to be the cheapest option – and you will be paying that rate until you actively move your account or request to change onto a better rate. It’s up to you to be on top of all these dates and agreements… which isn’t easy if you are also trying to keep other plates spinning!
When you sign up to a supplier it’s normal to go with a fixed term price for 12 or 18 months, this is great as both you and the company can plan what is going in and out – however if you don’t keep an eye on when that fixed amount is coming to an end you can suddenly find your bills have changed.
The SVT is a variable amount, so it can go up and down making it hard to estimate your bills. This is an industry standard figure, and many people are paying more than they need to for the same supply as they haven’t checked if there is a cheaper rate available.
As accounts are usually charged by the unit of electricity or gas, avoiding an SVT could make a huge difference to your bill. A recent study commissioned by ENGIE has found that millions of British families could save an average of £121 a year off their energy bills if their provider switched them to the cheapest available tariff rather than the Standard Variable Tariff. That could be a considerable saving for a family, and is why policies such as ENGIE’s Rate Rollover Promise can be so beneficial.
Checking and potentially changing your utility companies is a really important way to keep on top of your finances; and could save you a significant amount of money. Once you are in the habit of looking at the largest bills like gas and electricity you can start to review other regular outgoings like:
• phone packages
• internet charges
• tv costs
• clubs and activities
It’s important to feel in control of your outgoings, to know how much and when the money leaves your account so you don’t have any nasty surprises, and most importantly you can start to plan ahead.
One way to make this sometimes boring or frustrating process more fun is to have a sliding scale of what you will do with any savings you make…
If we save £50 we will…
If we save £100 we will…
If we save £150 we will…
When did you last check your monthly outgoings?
Bullying and the Power of WeParent
If you follow our Just One Thing series on Facebook you may have seen us interview Nick Tustin one of the founders of the website WeParent. I really like this site and have used it for support and ideas in parenting our four wild cards – even with 15 years’ experience as a lecturer in personal development I still need ideas and back up when the kids behaviour is challenging or new. WeParent is a wonderful resource full of strategies that are easy to access, helpful and ‘doable’. Nick has very kindly offered for 10 of our lovely readers and followers to win a one year subscription for We Parent – this is a really amazing offer, you can enter by commenting on this blog post with your child/ren’s age and the hardest thing about parenting below:
There are already a number of parenting issues available on the site, and there is always a free strategy each week. We have used the Sibling Rivalry strategies on many occasions lately… However there is also a NEW topic that has recently been added that we wanted to highlight as it’s so very important.
The newly created resources are to support children and adults with the issue of bullying. I wanted to work through this with our kids as it’s such an relevant topic, but also because I don’t feel it is always clear to children what we mean by bullying – they know not to do it, but I’m not sure they always identify the behaviour to stop. Alongside the sibling rivalry we also have to manage how our four kids interact with each other and this is a really great topic to discuss with them all.
I took a look at the resources on WeParent – and this is what I thought…
The Module is called Preventing Bullying and is in four modules, each aimed at supporting children to identify and deal with bullying – and helping parents to manage their own feelings! Having created and taught Assertiveness I felt confident in that module, but there is always more to learn, and I gained great insight in the first module as I have only ever worked with adults (before my own children).
Introduction to the topic and what will be covered etc. I particularly like the age appropriate options as this is essential when working with children.
Teaching your Child About Bullying:
This had lots of useful ways to discuss what bullying is, what behaviours might happen and also what it isn’t. We had a long discussion about banter and teasing and when that could become bullying, it was great that the kids came up with lots of examples themselves of things they have seen at school. We also took time to look at our own behaviour and when we might have behaved in ways that weren’t nice for people around us, even if that wasn’t our intention. It was a topic the kids were happy to discuss.
I liked that at the end of that topic you can choose which one to share next, that flexibility is nice as you can respond more to your own situation.
We chose this next, I feel fairly happy talking about this as it’s one of my favourite ideas to teach – discussing it with children was fascinating! A lot of this module is actually work for the adults to do, and experience tells me that we can all work on our assertiveness skills. Modelling behaviour is such a powerful way to teach children, this is really an essential module for all parents regardless of the topic – it’s a wonderful life skill. The strategy on Decision Making is also excellent, with a solid set of ideas to support children in learning to make ‘good’ decisions and a step by step guide for adults to set things up well so that children have the opportunity to make decisions in ways that you are comfortable with.
The module is well planned and offers lots of information and support.
Positive Sense of Self:
There are 3 strategies for helping children develop a positive self image, and they are all described and clearly explained so that adults can easily start to implement them. The modules all work well together and you can of course go back and re-read or try things again. This is long term strategies for making real change in the behaviour of the whole family, it does need all adults ‘on board’ to be effective, as they will lead by example and reinforce the messages.
If you feel concerned that your child is being bullied, or if they are the bully – there are a number of ways to manage the situation. The first, I think, is to manage your own strong emotions – as parents protecting our children is a fundamental and passionate response and we need to be able to control ourselves when discussing bullying and trying not to judge, but to be open and to listen. So here are some pointers:
- Ask open questions and LISTEN to the answers
- Discuss what bullying is in age appropriate language
- Discuss how it would/does feel to be bullied
- Focus on positive self talk and assertive responses – help children write a list of their qualities
- Model assertive behaviour and language – use ‘I’ statements as much as possible
- Speak to outside people as you feel the need e.g other parents, pre-school, school, health visitors.
I was impressed by the quality of the WeParent strategies, the flexible learning and helpful and practical suggestions. It’s clear that the modules are written by actual parents (lots of well known advice is from people without kids) and although it requires energy and focus, the strategies are easy to follow and it’s great to feel you have something concrete to read and go back to as a parent. I’m really grateful to Nick and the team for letting me take a look at the modules and use the site to see what I thought, and to help me as a parent of four independent children! I have genuinely used the site and often ‘popped in’ for an idea or just to remind myself that these are common issues for kids – mine are quite normal… well… mostly…
I’ve also come across a really great book to help with managing behaviour (both adults and children) called Cool That Volcano by Peter Blake – I really liked the style and tone, as well as the content obviously!
What a fascinating experience it was to review this Ecological tale about Extinction for children…
You can download the Apps from all the app stores, the first instalment is free and the next 3 parts are at a very low cost.
We loved that it was all produced in the attic!
We loved that children weren’t dumbed down to
We loved that there is no in app purchasing options or advertising
We loved the innovation
We loved the Rock!
National Hugging Day!
Who can resist celebrating this wonderful day? We certainly can’t here at Frugal HQ, and with the cold weather and a hibernation sensation cuddling up under a quilt sounds pretty perfect. National Hugging Day is on the 21st January every year, and although it started in the US it’s travelled the world with it’s message of kindness and support.
The message also fits with where The Frugal Family is at currently, I’ve been developing ideas about how to best support families who are looking to become more ethical and frugal in 2018. There are a number of ways it could have gone, I was quite taken with the idea of a magazine… but that didn’t feel personal enough, so I’m going to start a membership group called
Plan It, Do It, Love It!
There is already a facebook group (who came up with the name – thanks x) with daily threads and ideas which will continue as it is, but I wanted to be able to have a more personal impact on families that really want to get motivated and start living in action. So… after much deliberation I’m starting a separate group for people that want the nitty-gritty. I think my 15 years of lecturing and as a qualified Life Coach are going to be a great background for the group.
Benefits of joining are:
- Running monthly planning sessions together online to get your calendar under control and support with finding savings and planning ahead.
- Q&A workshops relevant to the monthly theme – this will be linked to the main page theme, but more flexible.
- Exclusive resources.
- Discounts for members with ethical and frugal businesses.
- Guest specialists to help us out through the year.
ALL e-books and courses that the The Frugal Family has solely produced in the shop will be FREE to members. This includes the NEW Meal Planning and Sourcing Your Food 5 Day E-course at £25! which will be available next month.
I would expect you to save or make the fee each month (and more!), or over the year by working hard and completing your monthly ‘challenge’ we set together.
Membership to Plan It, Love It, Do It! will be just £9.99 per month (first month FREE)
or £99.99 for 12 months (2 Months FREE) paid up front .
This is a special price to help us get going and trial a number of ideas on these willing guinea pigs!
The first LIVE month will be March, but you can sign up now to grab your place, and access our Resources Bank and some other fun things for our February Founder Members – including a 1:1 chat with me to get you started.
It’s a really wonderful time of year to start your frugal journey, or to up your game if you are already on the road – and a bit of help with ideas, accountability and self care can only help. I’m using my own experience as the basis for the membership – the things that I wished I’d had access to, I’ve also used several polls in the fb group to see what people want and need to become the ethically frugal family they wish to be.
This confidential and friendly space, with some coaching and support will be a really safe place to discuss ideas and solve problems, with other parents and people who will really ‘get’ it. I hope you can join us, and I’m looking forward to meeting you face to face in our first Zoom meeting. If you sign up you will receive a welcome email with all the details you need.
If you would like to support us, but don’t think membership is for you we have a Patreon account you can sign up to for just £2 per month x
See, we do take our own advice!
We are so excited to share our new FREE e-book with you. I wanted to put together a set of starting ideas and goals for living an ethically frugal life, and January just seems the perfect time to do this.
I hope that this is useful to people and contains some practical ways to get going for 2018!
The book is split into 7 ‘Steps’ to challenge all areas of family life, but it mainly falls to the adults to do the work! Some sections might be easier for you than others and you don’t have to complete them in any order, but if you do complete them all you should be looking at having up to £1,000 saved or made – and then you can decide what to do with it!
If you have debts, then they should always be your first concern, although mortgages are a slightly different kettle of fish…
To give you a sneak peek – The 7 Steps are:
1. Check what you have – you might be able to just not buy certain things for a while once you’ve done an audit of what you already have stashed in cupboards, the attic and garage….
2. Change what you can – you need to be changing utilities and other services regularly, or at least checking them annually.
3. Sell what you no longer need – quick fix!
4. Plan and source your food – lots of ideas for this big regular expense
5. Plan ahead – get a feel for what you will need through the months, leading to better use of sales, coupons and wish lists.
6. Household Mindfulness – paying attention to the small ways you can save money and the world, this is where the kids come into their own…
7. Kindness – practicing self-care can reduce lots of bills – honest!
I am also working on making each of the steps into a week long email course, with video and handout support – if you feel that you need some extra help with any of the ideas in the free e-book, these would be the next step. The book should go live in the shop tomorrow, but if you want to be kept up to date with all our exciting news feel free to sign up to our community – we promise not to contact you too much.
I got so excited by the possibilities and opportunities of video that I’m also putting up a number of our workshops as online courses, so that people can access them nationally (or internationally!) – we can’t travel too far as we have childcare and family commitments, but the wonder of the internet means we can still share our ideas and experience. The first one I’m working on (just need a few more hours in the day and some healthy kids!) is the 50 Ways to Save the World... I so love delivering that talk.
I’d love to know what your biggest battle is with ethical and frugal family life, we have a poll in the Facebook Group if you would like to join the link is here. You can also email us, or drop us a Tweet with any ideas – I love a challenge x
Yes – I really do have some things I do as one Christmas ends, to get ready for the next one. This may sound a bit much, but you will thank me next December I promise, and there is nothing here that is onerous honest.
1. DVD or Book Advent
Over several years of presents and great finds we built up a collection of family Christmas films. We now keep these separately and use them as a sort of advent calendar, so from 1st December the kids take turns to unwrap a Christmas film most nights after school, and weekends. We used to wrap the books as well but that got harder with the age range of children and the number of books we read each night, so they are now just in a pretty box for the Season.
It’s much easier to wrap them NOW before you put them away in the loft, and using the wrapping paper you have saved from the recycling bin, job done.
You can do this unwrapping idea with anything really depending on what you have (or would like to get hold of…) ideas could be books, or chocolate, wine… whatever you want!
2. Food List
Or use the shopping receipt to start you off… If you are being super organised you might keep a file with such lists in so year on year you build up a great database of resources. You will never forget the cranberry sauce again…
You could also include any new ideas you have seen or been treated to by others, you could keep recipes here and we also have a list of non-food items e.g. we like to find a colouring in table cloth.
The more organised you are the better to take advantage of any deals you see in the run up to the big day – you can save a lot of money by buying in advance in sales throughout the year, or spreading the cost by adding things to each weekly shop over the Winter months.
3. Cut up your Cards
If you received Christmas Cards you can reuse them for lots of things by getting them ready NOW, which also means less going into the recycling; ideas might include:
• Cut up for present labels
• Used to make new Christmas cards (this is what we do…)
• Cut up for kids crafts (sorted into animals or colours?)
• Cut out non-Christmas bits for Thank You cards
• Cut out for hexagon patchwork foundation piecing – New Year, New Hobby xx
4. Keep a Present List
To save trying to remember what you got for everyone this year, so you don’t duplicate next year jot a list down NOW (if you like the idea of this Christmas Planning File, add this in x) and then you don’t have to remember. Mr F is a bit of a spreadsheet fanatic, so we have all our lists on the computer and then can share the load of thinking, buying, making, organising etc . This is also really useful as my brain works in curious ways and I now have a place to save a good idea that comes to me in April for a Christmas present. Another advantage is that if I’m planning on making things or doing crafts with the children I can add anything I need to buy well in advance of December itself – and like the food list, I can make use of free recycling sites and sales.
If you are a present re-gifter, please keep a note of where each gift you will be ‘re-homing’ has come from. There is NOTHING worse than getting a gift you gave someone coming back to you… we have a family member who doesn’t keep a list – and we take bets on who will get what from last year!!
The year we had baby four on the 21st, I can’t remember much – but luckily I had completed all my lists in advance and could leave Mr F to it – unsure what day we would all be home and when baby might join us!
5. Clothes Clear Out
If you have festive clothes, before you put them all away for next year, just have a quick check of sizes and condition. With four children our Christmas clothes have had a good innings, but this year we have given our new baby items to a friend, and at the end of this year anything under age 2 can be given away. It is another quick job you can do NOW that you won’t have to do next December. This might be true of slippers, dressing up costumes, festive hats etc.
Our family really hopes your family has had an amazing break, and that we will continue to support and inspire you in 2018, we have such exciting plans – bring it on!
It can be hard to think what to do with the kids in the Winter school holidays, of course the new toys and things they get at Christmas (assuming they are on the nice list) mean there is a lot of distraction, and there are usually lots of activities around for Christmas. However, these trips and toys all add up and it can be an extremely expensive few weeks. So, here are 5 FREE ideas to entertain children in the cold school break.
This post contains one affiliate link right at the bottom, so if you choose to use it we get a bit of money off our food shop – at no cost to you x
1. Winter Walks
In conjunction with our good friends at WikiPlacesforKids here are 5 free Winter Walks. Use the link to find all the details you need to know provided by real families that have actually been there xx
- Beckenham Palace Park, South London
- RSPB Rye Meads, Hertfordshire
- The Quarry, Shrewsbury
- Alyn Waters, Wrexham
- Arrow Valley Country Park, Worcestershire
- There are LOTS more ideas over at Wiki, covering the whole of the UK x
2. Hide The Horse
So, this is on the Elf on the Shelf theme, which may be a blessing or a curse depending how you feel about it, if it’s something you want to continue then we found Hide the Horse (it really could be ANYTHING) ours is a Happyland horse as it’s the first thing I stepped on that day… I hide it when I go to bed and it takes the kids a while to find each morning as it’s quite small; I even get to make a cup of tea most mornings.
There is no need to make the toy do amusing things, unless you feel the urge.
3. Earn It Ernie
I actually think electronic devices come into their own in Winter! Come up with a system that will work for your family that means the kids can earn extra TV/Console/Ipad time. Maybe create a chart that equals 30 minute blocks? Whatever works for you – it could be there is a film at 3pm every day if everyone ‘earns’ it.
Kids could colour in a block of the chart for…
Making their bed
Clearing their bedroom floor
Putting away their laundry
Helping a sibling
Reading a school book
Completing a worksheet – zillions on line or lost in their school bags
Helping to put the dishes away
Playing sock snap for 10mins
Entertaining a sibling
Taking all their toys back upstairs/putting away
Singing their times tables
Drawing a picture
Writing 2 thank you notes
Not whining for 5 minutes – you get the picture!
4. Virtual Party
If you can’t face having extra children in the house and it’s too cold to force them outside – see if any of their friends have access to Skype or Facetime – both are free and they could plan a little 10 minute ‘show’ and then call their friend to share it, and the next day maybe they could return the favour?
It might work better with family or friends overseas – let’s embrace modern technology for all its good bits. Ideas for the kids might be:
• Sing nursery rhymes
• Write their thank you for any gifts onto cards and hold them up in the right order (quite hard to coordinate for young children so good skill development!)
• Teach a pet a trick
• Dress up and do ‘famous film scenes’
• Make up their own play
• Tell jokes
• Review a book/film
• Play charades
• Play ‘name that tune’ – sometimes a real challenge with kids!
5. Snack Up
If the kids are largely indoors, and off school/nursery they will be eating A LOT. We always stock up on snacks and quick foods from Approved Foods before each school holiday, but in the Winter it always seems as if we all want to snack, especially as the cold hits. You could use the opportunity to let older children run a snack shop and use play or real money. They would need to make signs, price labels, special offers, opening times etc so make sure you have some scrap paper and sticky stuff to hand. You also need shopping bags and maybe a till/box, receipt book – see what you have around.
We have also run a café, newsagent, toy shop and cinema… if you do use the Approved Foods it will be delivered in large boxes and they are prefect to make cars; you could even have an indoor drive through – you see how my mind wanders!
You can see us opening up our latest delivery – which arrived just in time for the holidays, I’ve loaded it up to our YouTube Channel
Wishing you and your family a really wonderful, fun, peaceful Christmas… pop back next week to find out 5 FREE Ways You Can Get Ready for Christmas 2018 NOW!!
There are NO AFFILIATE links here, I’m not getting any personal benefit from sharing these ideas with you (more fool me!) but I wanted to inspire people to stop spending money they don’t have, or only buying from large corporations when you can get wonderful, handmade, beautiful, ethical gifts from small suppliers, local producers and great people. You are likely to come across a charge for postage and packing, but it may be that you live close enough to collect, or will add more to an order for postage to be cost effective. Please remember these are small suppliers making great products to feed their families.
If you have a friend or relative that runs their own business, please do buy from them before a large corporation – they are your friends! Maybe you could ask if they have gift vouchers, if they’ve written a book then buy it…
Let’s make 2018 a real year of LOVE and KINDNESS.
These are not ‘stocking fillers’ or ‘secret santa’ ideas just based on the price, they are simply lovely gifts. Where you choose to put them, and how many you may buy is entirely up to you but please people of Earth take a moment to just think about what you are spending and where – this should be a time of Peace, Love and Family. I see so much stress and anxiety and it makes me sad.
Next week I will be sharing some FREE gifts for children, just as a few ideas to give some perspective. But for today – dive in!
These in no particular order, and all are beautiful in their own way (I have tried to group them for ease….) Many of the makers I know personally or have been in touch with via the wonders of the internet recently so this information was correct when I pressed Publish!
Actually I want these as well, but they are very useful for school lunches – reuseable sandwich bags (£3.75). I love the designs and variety and just the great ecological wonderfulness of them. There is lots of love at WoollaWoolla Handmade including polar fleece neck warmers and cool hair accessories, all in budget.
These beautifully hand crafted wooden spinning tops from Love Heart Wood are just timeless (£4.50). Each one is unique and no need for batteries!
Another great local find for us was KBling Designs, we got our girls a number of hair accessories and a necklace all under £3! There is loads to choose from, and no fuel or postage cost for us.
More handmade hair accessories from Three Little Pickles Craft (£2.00) – can you tell we have three girls?? It was great to meet another working mum, doing her best for her family and such a creative gift xx
We love Stapleford Stones, they are such fun to hide and share – or to buy and keep. Prices start from £2.00 and go up…
As you will already know we love books, and kids books can be under budget – for those reading on their own check out Maddies Magic Christmas (£1.99 on Kindle), Rob Keeley’s Short Stories (£3.99 on Kindle), We also use local charity shops for books and DVD’s.
For the Home:
There is a whole section of gifts listed under £5 at Homebee. There are lovely inspirational plaques (£4,50), and a great Badger riding a bike tin (£3.50) that made it’s way to our basket – along with a cute fridge magnet (£2.50) Mr F will appreciate x
If you sort by price at Moose in the Mint you will see a whole host of items under £5, all upcycled and eco-friendly. We particularly liked the individual wine glass markers at £2.50.
Another whopping great list of items in budget from Hetty and Betty – Mr F has his eye on the beer bottle opener (£4.99) and I would rather like the heart shaped chalk board (£3.99).
For an original and striking piece of artwork you can buy a print from Vision Within Artwork (£4.50) – we love the Manchester Bees and also know some Londoners that would appreciate the St Pauls Cathedral.
We were excited to come across Alexander Fox Design recently – her use of recycled materials to create Christmas decorations was just beautiful, and many under £5. We also love foxes, so her larger work has gone on the Wish List x
If you love recycling, and beautiful bottles then The Tipsy Candle is a really fun company re-purposing beautiful glass bottles into candles. They have an Absolut Vodka for £5, but the larger champagne bottles with up to 70 hours burn time are obviously more. We particularly liked the Nottingham Gin which has gone on the Wish List x
For a less alcoholic approach you could try Tension Takeaway Candles, these are vegan and made in East Sussex with the smaller 100g size all at £5.00.
If you fancy some lovely treats you can’t go wrong with an artisan hot chocolate coin (£1.25) from Pip’s Real Hot Chocolate – from beautiful Wales, there are vegan options and shed loads of flavours, we like the mint ones…
Still on the foodie theme you could try the vegan fudge from Fab Fudge with a whole host of exciting flavours from £2.99. We liked the raspberry and the fruit and nut x
The wonderful Low Tox Box have a great shop, with lots of items in budget – for a festive treat they have an eco-cracker you can reuse again and again (£2.95).
We love everything at Fiona Rob Graphics, but the pocket mirrors (£4) are particularly lovely, and the Penguin felt decorations (£4.50) are super cute as well. There are also keyrings and other cards, decorations and woodland animals in abundance.
For the foodie in the family (or for yourself) you can try some award winning spice blends and new flavours with Spice Sanctuary mixes (£4.99) from Planet Organic.
You can have a pack of 15 teabags delivered to someone via Tea Huggers (£4.85)- perhaps a ‘Good Night’ , ‘TLC’ or ‘DETOX’? They have a mouth watering range on offer and no P&P costs in the UK. If anyone wants to send me some chocolate tea, I’d love to give it a try, but the Sleep one sounds the best…
For something very unusual check out these brilliant ‘slang’ pencils from Hedge and Hog Prints (£5.00) – we love the Ay Up version, but have some Yorkshire friends who will be getting the Bobby Dazzlers!!
One for the creatives – an organic and ethically produced iron on fabric patch from Shenaniganz (£4.99) – Art certainly is my distraction…
I was amazed to find these lovely hand made earrings at Two for Tea – for just £1 a pair!! P&P is £1.00 for up to five pairs and I want the Snoopy ones…
Our love of books is shared on both sides of the family – so you can always get someone a book in our experience, it’s great to support a local or indie author whenever possible – or to use second hand books or share one you already have and give a book review and tea bag with it x There are lots of Kindle books available for under £5.00, ideas to try… Aunt Bea’s Legacy by Jeanette Taylor Ford (£2.99) or The Night Raid by Clare Harvey (£3.99)
One particular book we recommend for the After Christmas clear up is from Less-Stuff and at £4.99 it’s well worth a read and maybe a few for gifts too!
We recently met Helen Domleo – an amazing designer and silversmith on a dog walk! Her work is quite beautiful inspired by nature and often using recycled metals, and some of her pieces are under £5.00… just amazing. I may have treated myself to something – shhh!
One of our favourite artists is Paper Panda – with lots of gifts, templates and accessories for under £5.00 you could inspire someone to a new hobby, and if you cut used paper it’s recycling too, I’m a genius.
If you would like to pamper someone you can’t go far wrong with a range of gifts under £5.00 from Honey and Rose – all handmade and good for you, we really like the filled Christmas Crackers (£5.00) and bath fizz (£3.00).
From the House of Kind you can have a beautiful notebook (£5.00) ready to list your dreams for 2018 – printed on recycled paper using vegetable inks you can feel good while you dream big!
If you’re looking for something with a bit of bite you will like Mean Mail! As the name suggests their cards (£3.50) are all quite mean, but also funny… we like ‘Did you Keep the Receipt?‘ which also seems quite fitting with my earlier rant…
The handmade greeting cards from Ethicological (£3.50) not only look great and are jolly useful, but are made as part of a project to support children who have experienced the hardest of times to become independent – they are also made of recycled papers and embody the whole package of green and great.
We really love the idea that you can make paper out of elephant poo – share the hilarity with a Card Making Kit (£3.95) from The Exotic Paper Company.
Some people have raised concerns that we have nothing here for the pets in our lives – if you follow us you know we have a dog who is loved by some of the family more than others… We have some great ideas for making pet beds, treats and toys over on our Pinterest Board Frugal Family Pets x x
If you still need some more inspiration take a look at our Gifts That Keep on Giving, and next week’s 5 Free Gifts for Kids x
If you are a small, ethical or just lovely producer of something £5.oo or under get in touch and we can update this list xx
Our theme for December is #frugalactsofkindness, you can join in by using our free Random Acts of Kindness calendar with an idea for every day in December to be kind. You can switch them around depending on your situation, but they give you some starting points… We will be sharing our kind behaviour on our Instagram page, on Twitter and on Facebook – feel free to join us on one of those platforms and share with us using the #. I can’t wait to get in the Christmas spirit by sharing some nice around.
Of course, we are a real family and so there will still be arguments and potential throwing of toys… BUT it does give us all a bit of a focus to think outside of our own needs, to consider others and what’s important on a bigger scale than who moved the superhero figures…
You can find the RAK Calendar in our shop to download FREE – enjoy x
We were so delighted to be nominated for a Sunshine Blogger Award by the wonderful Sabine at From Scratch, who offer writing and workshops to improve your business and customer service – and the feedback from clients says they are 100% helpful! We are both proud members of the Ethical Hour Growth Network, and the Sunshine Blogger Award is aimed at sharing all that is happy, joyful, interesting and positive on the web.
So, here are the questions we were set – and our answers:
Tell us a bit about yourself.
We had to make a big decision about our family and money at the end of 2015 – based around me wanting to leave the job I had loved for 15 years… and the major change in our income if I did. It turned into a much wider discussion about our family values, what we wanted, what was important to us etc. So, I started a blog to think about how to save money and live on a budget, while also incorporating stronger values such as our environmental concerns. The blog became very popular as it seems lots of us have these competing elements in raising a family on a budget!
The blog is now incorporated into our website which aims to support families and share the knowledge we have gained. As we are now a business, we’ve also added our expertise in the Frugal Office – to support other small operations that want to be ‘green’ but don’t have unlimited budgets.
2. Does your blog represent ethical values? If so, which ones are most important to you?
I hope it really does represent our worries about the environment, our concern for children around the world, and families that don’t have the luxury of our choices. For us being frugal and saving money couldn’t just be about buying the cheapest things, as they are so often part of the shocking ethical and environmental situation – so we’ve had to find ways to honour those values and concerns, while living on a budget. The great news is that it can be done! We’ve started by sharing our school holiday ideas, and household tactics. In 2018 we will be tackling all of life’s events from the cradle to the grave and how to manage them with both financial and ethical concerns.
3. How often do you blog, and why?
As part of the website we try to do a weekly ‘Thursday Thought’, and we mostly manage it! We also have another theme of ‘Unexpected Parenting’ which we would like to revive; that is more of an ad hoc post. The website itself also has a theme each month so we can share, collaborate and highlight ideas and inspiration in bite-sized chunks.
Here at From Scratch, we help ethical and creative businesses give customer support that’s “on fire”.
4. Do you see a connection between strong ethics and creativity?
I think you could be creative without having any strong ethics – but I do think creativity comes from a place of passion, so it’s likely you feel strongly about something!
5. Apart from blogging, how else do you express your creativity?
6. Can you share a customer support experience which you’d say was “on fire”? If you can’t remember — can you recall a poor experience?
The best customer care I ever had was from Simply Health! I was on statutory maternity pay and also had an 18mth old, and my husband was made redundant – things were tough and we got rid of everything non-essential. When I called to cancel our health policy they said how about you just don’t pay your premiums for 3 months and then see how things go. We could still make claims during that time and we could extend it for another 3 months if necessary. Amazing. My worst customer service was the Tax Credit office – don’t get me started…
7. What’s ethics got to do with giving great customer support? We mainly help businesses by writing great service copy, training their teams, and developing their service strategy.
Just showing human kindness is usually a good starting point, great listening skills and not being so held to a script or computer programme that you can deal with individual needs. The ethics of a company will be expressed via their customer service. I would also imagine the care of the customer service staff is part of that ethical structure – it’s not an easy job!
8. What’s the one word, expression or sentence you never want to hear again as a customer?
Press 1 for …
9. Would you rather have a fast or a personal resolution to your query?
Personal, but I don’t think the two have to be mutually exclusive!
10. What’s your favourite joke?
Why do elephants have big ears? Because Noddy won’t pay the ransom!!
To keep the power of positivity going, and to share some more great blogs out there we are nominating the following excellent and interesting people for a Sunshine Blogger Award, and setting them ten questions of our own…
Pragya Agarwal from The Art Tiffin – an ethical, vegan art subscription box supporting the environment and mental health charities, and encouraging creativity for the whole family.
SS Blake from Earth and Water – helping us all to balance our lives and leave the world in a better state than we found it.
Claire Mulvany from Cotswold Karma – sharing the beauty of the Cotswolds and encouraging us all to take more Mindful Moments.
Here are your questions!
We are a new business – supporting families, here are few questions to find out more about you and your family:
1.Tell us a bit about your blog and how it supports family life.
2. How do you balance time to write and share with parenting?
3. We are trying to practice more considerate spending – what’s your favourite store bought item?
4. Frugal HQ is in the old potting shed! Where do you get your work done for the blog?
We are also striving to measure the positive impact we can have by making small changes to our daily lives…
5. What are you top ‘green’ tips?
6. Do you believe there is a link between conscious living and more positive mental health?
7. What is your favourite ethical or eco item?
8. Do you feel your blog holds you more accountable for your choices – and is that good or bad?!
At The Frugal Family we are also all about saving money!
9. What’s your favourite free family activity?
10. What’s your ‘go to’ luxury or treat?
Thank you so much for being part of this fun and positive part of the internet – the ‘rules’ are listed below – have fun sharing your answers and introducing us to some other lovely blogs x