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It can be really refreshing to find out about some things that could make a difference to your life, especially when it comes to finance – but a lot of the time the publicity sits around ways to reduce gas and electric bills and which suppliers offer the best value. Yet what does not get talked about too frequently is ways to reduce already existing debt. This may strike you as a bit strange, as most people have some form of credit agreement whether it is a credit card or a store card.

That is why you might want to learn a bit more about debt consolidation – a term you might have heard of before but not fully understood. This blog post will introduce a few key points on debt consolidation which you might find helpful either now or in the future.

What is debt consolidation?

First it is best to understand the concept itself. Debt consolidation is a way of paying back the money you owe, but by making payments to one creditor instead of a whole host of them. Many people have a number of debts such as those from credit cards or store cards; these could be paid off via a low rate loan which could cost less than continuing to make payments each month, especially when there is a high level of interest.

How long has it been around?

Debt consolidation is not a brand new idea, but as credit cards become more common and personal debt accumulates, debt consolidation loans have become more popular in the last few years.. It is worth having a look online to find out who is currently offering a form of debt consolidation loan. This is because the options available might change over time.

Who is a debt consolidation loan suitable for?

You may or may not be suitable for one of these loans, so it is always sensible to speak to a financial adviser if you are unsure. However in general, a debt consolidation loan is an option considered by people with a number of credit agreements who want to reduce the total amount paid overall. This is also true of those who pay over 16 percent in credit card interest and want to lower payments through a lower rate loan.

How can you apply for a loan?

In order to apply for a loan of this type, you can either look online at websites such as Zopa who deal with debt consolidation, or you can speak to a high street bank or building society. However it first makes sense to work out the average interest rate and total monthly payment costs of your current debt. You will then be able to compare this to the payment amounts for a new loan.

Where can you find out more about it?

If you would like to find out more about debt consolidation, you can speak to someone at the Citizen’s Advice Bureau. Alternatively you could look at the Money Advice Service, or book an appointment with an independent financial adviser.

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I try and be thrifty with my family, but as regular readers will know, I often fail.  Many things are worth paying for, and sometimes when I have gone thrifty it has cost me double.

For example, last year, when I replaced my flat tyre with a cheaper version than the original.  Four weeks later I found myself in the tyre shop, again, spending more of my hard earned cash.

I bought the cheap tyre because I had bought cheap car insurance.  When the tyre went flat I suddenly discovered that my insurance didn’t cover me for flat tyres. I found out that most car insurance policies don’t cover you for flat tyres, so don’t expect them to! Next time I won’t go so cheap on my tyres…

Knowing when and what to insure is hard work.  I have never insured my phones but have a reputation for breaking them regularly. I have a friend who insures everything, including taking out e-cig insurance when she recently stopped smoking.

Many time I wish I was more like her!

So, over the last year I have learnt a few lessons and have a better idea of what to scrimp on and what to pay for.

Thrifty Things

Food – can be bought cheap and still taste delicious, Aldi has served us well for a while now and I reckon our shopping bill is half what it used to be.

Kids Clothes – Sales, charity shops, hand me downs.  I can’t remember the last time I paid full price for an item for the child.  Children grow so fast that it is easy to find second hand bits that look as good as new.

Toys – As above, eBay, local Facebook groups, second hand thrift sales are all great places for picking up next year’s Christmas stocking gifts.

When to splash the cash.

These are things I would recommend investing in.  Where buying the cheapest on the market doesn’t always pay off.

Car Insurance – it costs a lot when things go wrong with the car, so go for quality comprehensive cover if you care about your car. My biggest fear is being hit by an uninsured driver, but with comprehensive cover I don’t have to worry about it. The AA’s comprehensive option will also replace damaged or stolen child seats, and cover accidental damage – which is a huge sigh of relief.

Home cover – When my twins were tiny we knew the chaps in our home insurance team by name.  My son had chronic reflux and changed the colour of our carpets daily.  As he grew older he managed to burn the new carpets with a hair-dryer, re decorate the walls with a biro and lose my diamond earrings down the plug hole.

I (non surprisingly) have always been extremely grateful to our insurance providers.

Shampoo –  Really! Cheap shampoo leaves your hair looking like string.  If anyone knows of a cheap brand that doesn’t achieve this unfashionable look please let me know!

Carpets – Trust me, once you have replaced them twice because of one small boy, you will appreciate the importance of having decent carpets underfoot!

 

My kitchen is tired, almost as tired as I am, but not quite.

It needs some tender loving care, potentially a complete overhaul – but cost always remains a factor when it comes to waking up the home.

However, I do have some exciting news – Magnet have got some great February deals on over on their website.  It is more than worth checking out if you are in the mood to do some re designing in the home this year.  Plus, what could be nicer than a new kitchen?

 

Our kitchen is the focal point of the home, where the kids tell me about their day as I make the next days packed lunches, it is where my husband greets me when he comes in from work, it is where I spend a bit of time relaxing on a weekend after a hefty baking session.

So, Magnet have an exclusive online sale on – but you have to be quick – it is only on until the end of February.

If you enter your email here:  www.magnet.co.uk/discount-voucher and read the full terms and conditions on the site you can download a voucher to use to buy your dream kitchen from one of the ranges currently involved in the promotion.

Sales like this means creating your dream home doesn’t have to break the bank.

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Competition is in the air.

The winter Olympics is all over the TV, and we are feeling patriotic as a family.

However tonight, that all ends.

Tonight we are pitting ourselves against each other and prepare to fight to the death to win our Family Games Night.

That may sound a little harsh but you may not quite realise how competitive my family is, starting with my husband and working down to my youngest child.  The kind folks at TwoLittleFleas have challenged my brood to put down the phones and the tablets and engage in a great British tradition of board games.

Tonight is the night.

Let me introduce you to the contenders.

My son: possibly the most forcefully competitive amongst us, he looks angelic but this child has a flaw.  He cannot lose, it is the worse feeling in the world for him and he will do anything in his power to avoid it.  Top games include: Snakes & Ladders and Junior Pictionary.

 

 

The girl, my eldest daughter.  Known for her determined nature and inability to accept defeat.  She rates herself as the queen of Ludo and is a demon at Snap.  My advice is: don’t cross her….

 

 

 

She looks like a cutie pie, but this child has no respect for the rules, determined to win at all costs and too little to really comprehend the concept of most games she cheats until victory is hers.  Best games are Hide and Seek Peppa Pig and Moshi Monster Matching.

 

Look at that face, it means business, the children inherited their competitive streak from this man, he is not to be underestimated.  Preferred games are Scrabble and Black Jack.

 

 

 

 

 

My competitive brood, and of course myself, I really just join in for the fun, I don’t mind if I win or lose, although I do normally win.

And boy, I like how it feels when I win.

So the challenge…

We are embarking on a game of Snap to warm up the competitive genes and then a game of Monopoly first, I fear Scrabble may be a step too far for the children as linguistically the small one can’t read and the big one (Daddy) is a poor speller.

We have chips and dips, and a huge chocolate bar for the winner (me).

It could get messy….

Bring it on.

Many thanks to twolittlefleas for helping out with some family bonding time!

The Next Day – Update

Last night was fantastic.

We had so much fun and not one single bout of fisty cuffs.

The winner was my eldest daughter, although don’t tell the small one that as she went to bed under the mistaken belief that she was the champion.  She actually demolished more hotels than she built.  My son took the defeat gracefully but reminded us for the next hour that he was the reigning victor at Snap.

The best thing about having a night in together was that it didn’t cost anything, but was a great family experience. Proving that you don’t have to spend a fortune to have a good time with your children, or in this case we didn’t have to spend anything at all.

 

 

My postman must question what I do for a living.  He is forever bringing parcels of every shape and size to my door, it is one of the perks of being a blogger, that I get to review some fabulous things and impart my wisdom on the world.

However, I fear the postman may feel I have an over enthusiastic spending finger and am addicted to Amazon and eBay.

I must confess to having a mild blush when my latest parcel arrived, as it is one for grown up eyes only, and I had to sneak it into the bedroom to have a quick look.

It is a massage gel…..

For us adults in the home, obviously.

Made by Durex, Embrace is a duo of sensual pleasure gels, one that gets you all warm and tingly and one that excites the senses.

I giggled like a school girl when I opened it.

I have to confess that I love a massage, it doesn’t have to lead to the act of baby making, in fact more often than not it leads to the act of sleep, but it is a rare occasion that I get a rub down from him indoors.

So the scene was set, I created a mood…..

I set a Mickey Mouse candle burning (it was all I could find) and set some tunes flowing from the iPad.  Convincing the other half that this was work I forced gently cajoled him into giving me a massage.

It was all going quite nicely, my shoulders were losing their tension, I was still awake, and Adele was crooning happily in the background.

Then…….

Adele faded out and the next song began,

“Postman Pat, Postman Pat,”

Never use iPad shuffle, it will ignore any perfectly good mood creating tunes and leap to the most inappropriate song choice when you least expect it.

In my hurry to rid the room of Pat and his black and white cat, I launched Mickey Mouse and his burning ears across the room as I reached for the iPad.  Then I threw myself from my massage table (read: bed) to blow Mickey out before the house was set ablaze by mine and Pat’s passions.

I then sat on the floor panting for a moment, checking I was alive and the house not on fire.

Then I heard a cheeky little voice call,

“Mummy, why are you and Daddy watching Pat?”

It was at this point that I realised that him indoors had left the room and was happily channel surfing in the lounge.

I settled the small one, turned off the iPad, enjoyed the soft relaxing glow that was settled on my shoulders and joined the other half in the lounge.

“Good stuff, that Embrace,” he muttered whilst draping an arm around my shoulders, “let’s try it again when your mum has got the kids.”

I this that is a cracking plan!

Disclosure: We were commissioned to write about Embrace which retails around £10.95 – not a bad price to pay for a bit of pleasure.  You can find out more at their website and watch a cracking video to show you what this stuff can really do!

Enjoy!