October, 2013

Oct 13

A Royal Christening on a family budget

Prince George Christening 1

Watching the coverage of Prince George’s Christening last week I was struck by how understated and personal it was.  Prepared to be horrified when I tell you that 10% of parents spend an eye watering £10,000 on their baby’s Christening!  Insane!  However, you CAN have a really lovely party and celebrate your baby’s naming day without spending their inheritance!

  1. Baby’s gown – if you have a family Christening gown or special outfit, then use it!  It is GREAT to have something traditional and even if you aren’t keen on the style or think it is old-fashioned, it beats buying something new!  My friend’s husband was horrified about putting their son into ‘a dress’ but as soon as he remembered it was FREE, he was much happier!
  2. You don’t have to have an extensive guest list!  William and Kate only had 22 people (Godparents and immediate family).  Remember, this isn’t an extension of your wedding and you don’t have to invite loads of guests.
  3. Keep the party informal – check out the best deals on booze on mySupermarket or use discount vouchers and maybe even ask your guests to bring a dish to share together.
  4. Christening cakes, like wedding cakes, can cost a fortune, but you could buy a plain celebration cake and then buy cute cake toppers from Amazon or eBay and cut the cost in HALF!
  5. Although Prince George had a celebrity photographer, simple snaps on a good Smartphone can be just as good these days and you can get them printed out easily from PrinterPix and Photobox

Prince George Christening 2

For LOADS more ideas for creating a fabulous naming day on a budget, read my 1 minute guide to Christenings on a budget

Oct 13

A boot camp to save you THOUSANDS!

I have just cancelled my gym membership and will NEVER spend money on faddy diet foods again! Sounds extreme (and exciting!).   I have just had a pretty extreme experience at Prestige Boot Camps where I spent five days (normally 7) being put through my paces by the BEST trainers and eating only what I was given by a top class and nutritionist.

suffolk bootcamp

As a nation we waste £37 million a year on unused gym membership fees and unnecessary equipment that sits gathering dust in our lofts.   The average woman in the UK spends over £25,000 in a lifetime on faddy diets – that’s £485 a year!

After my week at bootcamp I will NEVER need to waste my money on that again.

It was TOUGH! But simply one of the most brilliant (and at times… most awful…) things I’ve ever done.   You detox and by day 3 you FEEL it – the caffeine, the booze, the refined sugar all leaving your system and the headaches kick in.  24 hours later, despite my aching muscles, I woke up with more energy than I have had in years and felt like a new person – by 6.30am I was DESPERATE for exercise (WHAT!).  After 4 kids in 4 and a half years… I had abs for the 1st time in years and my stomach looked like it did pre–children.  I nearly cried!

I spent the days doing hardcore exercise and the evenings reading, relaxing and sleeping.    One day I did half an hour ‘warm up’ and half an hour of squats, circuits and a 20 mile hike followed by an hour and a half boxing and circuits – that was the easiest day.  There was more boxing, assault courses, ‘buns of steel’ and cycling, a lot of running – sometimes on the beach, sometimes at the house – and LOADS more – no hour was the same.   We were kept suitably refreshed by the delicious food and snacks cooked by the excellent chef – the portions are SMALL but you soon learn that they are adequate.  I fantasised about whole roast chickens during my entire stay.  You live off 1200 calories a day (if you want to lose weight that is… the hard core athletes who go to this bootcamp eat A LOT more).  When you consider you’re burning 1000s of calories a day I must be honest and confess that there were moments when I found myself STARVING and took to foraging for berries… somehow foraging didn’t seem like cheating! Blackberries from the side of the road have NEVER tasted SO wonderful.


It’s suitable for ANY level of fitness, the trainers are genius and will push you to the point where YOU think you have nothing left (regardless of your fitness level) but they always find more.   When you hit a low they pull something fun out of the bag and you forget the ‘pain’ and you keep going.  I met a wonderful group of men and women of all different shapes and sizes, some who’d never exercised and some really fit.  They inspired me and encouraged me through my detox and made me want to work hard in the team games.   Most were there to lose weight and to kick start a healthy lifestyle – I literally watched weight fall off them and by day 5 everyone was glowing, thinner and had LOADS more energy than they did when they arrived.  It’s proper life changing stuff.

It is pretty pricey with a week costing just short of £1,000 but as an expert in money saving, I can truthfully say it was worth every penny.  I lost 9.2lb and 10 inches and came back feeling fabulous – some people lost a stone, others 6 pounds but everyone loses inches and inches from ALL over – arms, legs, hips, stomach. My skin was glowing, my eyes were bright and I felt pretty invincible and full of talk of doing an iron man!!  3 weeks later I’ve not put the weight back on and I’ve continued to exercise 4 times a week.

You leave armed with knowledge on food and a pile of delicious recipes.  You have enough information to be able to never join a gym or even go to a class every again.  You understand that interval training is better than slow running, that your body weight is enough to transform your body and leave you feeling fit and strong and that only 10 minutes of GOOD exercise most days (and you learn what GOOD exercise is!) can change your life.  All about quality.  I have enough circuits using my body weight only to last me forever.

One boot camp has changed my whole way of thinking and I am able to now motivate myself to get out and exercise for free and eat delicious nutritious meals that don’t cost the earth. I reckon I will recoup the cost of the boot camp within less than a year and after that I will be SAVING about £1,000 A YEAR because of my change in attitude.  Money well spent!  If you want a quick fix and something to kick start a better way of living, then this is for you.  For more ideas you can read my guide on fitness for less 

Oct 13

Stoptober savings when you quit smoking

October marks the start of Stoptober when the NHS has a big campaign to help stop people smoking.  Today, a fifth of all Britons smoke.  This is DESPITE the health warnings plastered all over fag packets and the common knowledge that smoking is an EXPENSIVE habit to have.  It causes cancer, lung disease and heart disease and reduces fertility considerably, yet millions of people all over the UK continue to smoke. I am lucky that smoking has never really appealed to me, which means I am in the fortunate position of not understanding how truly hard it is to give up. However, I have LOADS of friends who are struggling to stop and who just can’t find that extra bit of willpower. When I chat to them though, I have found the one thing that does make them sit up and listen is when I talk them through in detail the HUGE pressure it is putting on their wallets!


  • A 20 a day smoker will spend around £50,000 feeding their habit over the next 20 years!  That is enough for a brand new sports car!
  • If that smoker INVESTED the money into a simple low-risk cash ISA, that 50K would have become £70,000 after 20 years!  BIG MONEY indeed!
  • On top of that, friends who pay into life insurance policies or pay monthly for mortgage protection are actually DOUBLING their premiums by continuing to smoke.
  • Even a casual’ packet a weekend’ type of smoker could quit and SAVE enough after a year to treat their other half to dinner and a stay in a top hotel.  That’s got to be worth considering surely?!
  • It costs OVER £100 a month to smoke 10 fags a day.  This money could go into an ISA and EARN OVER £4,000 in just 3 years!

It is definitely food for thought.

Calculating the cost of smoking

There are LOADS of things out there to help you stop smoking like nicotine replacement therapy (patches and gum), workshops (Allen Carr is GREAT and you can even pay using Tesco Clubcard points) and through willpower and support from the Stoptober campaign. LOADS of celebs have been tweeting about joining Stoptober so if you are giving up, you are not alone!  Good luck to anyone quitting – AND REMEMBER, YOU CAN DO IT!!

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