Cassiefairy – My Thrifty Life

Cassiefairy's thrifty lifestyle blog – Saving money every day with DIY crafts, sewing projets, low-cost recipes & shppping tips

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How to reinvent a second-hand kitchen

Buying a kitchen second-hand may seem unheard of, but it can be a great way to update your home on a budget. So many people think that their only option is a basic store-bought kitchen, but there are alternatives out there – purchasing a designer kitchen second-hand is the future. You can get great quality at a fraction of the original custom-made price. However, when a kitchen has been designed for a different home, how do you personalise it to suit yours? Here are some tips:Paint is Your Best Friend

When you buy a second-hand kitchen, paint becomes your best friend. You can use it to transform the entire room, from the cabinets to the walls. You will be surprised how much painting your cabinets can lift the entire room, making it brighter and much more pleasant.

Change Up the Cabinets

With cabinets making up such an important part of the kitchen, changing them can have a big impact on the design. You could paint them, as we mentioned above, or replace the doors with glass. If you’re feeling brave (and you keep your cupboards tidy!) you could take the doors off completely. Is that too much commitment? Just replace the handles – chrome handles instantly update a kitchen, or you could find quirky vintage ones.Replace the Worktops

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How to earn money from your spare room

When most people think about thrifty living they automatically think of frugality: cutting costs and counting the pennies. But thrifty living is about far more than that. Of course, not paying too much for things you buy is important, as is making your existing possessions work harder by upcycling or repurposing them. But one of the things I’ve not mentioned on the blog before is making the most of your assets – and this is one of the most important ideas in thrifty living.  One huge asset that many people do not do much with is their home. This is surprising because your house is your biggest and most costly asset to maintain, so using it wisely can make a huge difference to your long-term financial future. Renting it out for holidays, short-term lets or even just getting a lodger can enables you to build up a good level of savings, and will have the cash ready for the next time you want to update your home.A potentially tax-free income Continue reading “How to earn money from your spare room” »


How to put aside a little extra cash for Christmas… starting now!

If you’re already thinking about Christmas, you’ll probably be wanting to find a few extra pennies for your festive shopping. When money is already tight it can be hard to imagine how you can save anything between now and Christmas but believe me when I say it can be done! And here’s how:budgeting money saving finance tips for university freshers students_-2Earlier this week I actually visited the Planner Wealth blog (yes, even thrifty bloggers like me need advice sometimes!)to find out some ideas for making even more savings than I usually do each month. I watched a really handy video with 5 helpful tips to show us where we can cut corners and save a little extra money here and there. I’ve embedded the video below so that you can watch it and make use of the advice for yourself.

I totally agree with the advice about saving money on food in this video. I’m such an advocate of cooking from scratch and making “tumble-down” meals with leftovers – have a look at my Pieday Friday category for 100s of thrifty recipes, all super easy to make and simple enough to be cooked with the kids too! A simple fuss-free savings idea is switching everything in your weekly shop over to ‘own brand’ versions.budgeting money saving finance tips for university freshers students_

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Guest post: 3 ways to free yourself from debt for good

For many people, getting into debt is a necessary evil. With the cost of living constantly on the rise, the majority of people these days are finding it impossible to buy things such as houses, cars, and more necessities without first borrowing money. Although the ability to borrow money when needed can be extremely helpful, having a lot of debt can often cause more problems than it is worth. Once you are in debt, it can be very difficult to get out of it, especially if you are paying interest and other fees each month along with your repayment. If you’re looking to free yourself from debt for good, here are some of the best methods of doing glitter piggy bank savings

DIY this piggy bank with instructions from Dwellings by Devore

 1. Pay off More
If you’re in debt and not particularly struggling with it, paying off more than the minimum payment can help you to clear your debts for good as quickly as possible. Rather than putting spare money towards savings, it actually makes more sense to make payments towards clearing your debt. The more that you pay towards them, the less that you will have to pay in interest. Even if you can only afford to pay just a few pounds over the minimum payment each month, doing so can certainly pay off in the future and enable you to clear yourself of debt as soon as glitter piggy bank savings money

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How to save: Taking control of family finances

As a thrifty gal who runs a blog on saving money in all walks of life, you can imagine how interested I am in financial affairs. Okay, perhaps not as interested as you might think but I DO still take an interest in my own money, my savings and the property I hope to investing in. After watching every penny and saving for years to scrape together a decent amount of savings, I’m very keen to learn more. While my 9am Monday morning financial accounting module in the first year of uni was a nightmare (ironically it was my best grade that year!), learning how to manage money and set up budgets in real life was almost fun. Even though at the time I couldn’t imagine why I’d ever need to know how to do a Balance Sheet, it turns out that I DID need that accounting module more than it needed me. I’ve done my own accounts and tax returns throughout all the years I’ve been self-employed and I’ve probably saved a lot of money in accountant’s fees by doing so! Spending Diary challenge for 2014-1While it might seem dull, it’s a great idea to at least look at your bank account every once in a while. Business guru Marie Forleo says that checking in on your accounts daily is a sure-fire way to keep on top of your finances and stop any issues before they turn into money problems. These days I can probably tell you about every single pound that enters and leaves my account. Geeky, right?! The fallout from the Brexit vote last week has already been intense, and looks set to continue for a very long time to come. Already we’ve seen the pound fall off a cliff (although, because I’m sometimes paid in dollars for my US writing, I am actually earning a little extra now – silver lining etc), the economy is in turmoil, and it’s left many of us concerned about where this leaves our families, and what the future holds for us. Everywhere you look there is talk about values of pensions being wiped out, and real people losing real money.Cassiefairy's spending diary 2014So how safe is our money?

The important thing to note is that for those of us with savings, nothing has changed. That’s because everyone in the UK is protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, which covers every individual for up to £75,000 per institution they have savings with. Banks and building societies have also been regulated far more tightly since the last recession, meaning they are obliged to keep higher levels of reserves to avoid crises like Northern Rock from 2007. The bottom line is that, if you have savings, you don’t really have much to worry about.

In fact, savings and current accounts may well become even more appealing in the months and years to come. It may sound paradoxical, given that the interest rates offered by banks have been utterly derisory for a number of years now, and probably won’t get any better in the near future. But certainly for those families with any extra savings to set aside, you’d imagine many will be giving something as volatile as the stock market a wide berth.budgeting money saving finance tips for university freshers students_-2

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Top 3 money-saving tips for teens

As a teenager, saving – and sometimes, making – money can often be a struggle. For many teens who are still in school, employment is out of the question, whilst others who attend sixth form college may not be able to work as much as they would like to, due to revision for exams and a huge amount of coursework. Whilst education should always come before earning money as a teen, admittedly it can be difficult to do things such as socialise with friends or buy yourself new items of clothing when you’re living off pennies for most of the month. That’s why I’ve thought back to my teenage years and have put together my best tips for saving and making money when you’re a teenager. budgeting money saving finance tips for university freshers students_Driving Lessons

If you are sixteen or seventeen, you might be hoping to go in for your driving test soon and get your driving license. But, learning to drive doesn’t come cheap – on top of the hefty cost of actually taking a driving test these days, don’t forget that you’ll also have to pay for lessons, the theory test, and learning materials to help you pass first time. Oh, and the provisional driving license itself! I’m sorry to say that the costs do mount up but if you’re well-trained and fully prepared you’ll pass your test first time and save money on the re-test fees at least! When it comes to practicing for the driving theory test, don’t waste your money on paid CDs and books – there are numerous free practice materials available online, including apps and dedicated websites. You can also save money on your lessons by booking an instructor who offers a student discount if you are still in education. budgeting money saving finance tips for university freshers students_-3Packed Lunches

If you pay for your lunch at school or college, taking in a packed lunch instead can be a much cheaper alternative that can free up a bit of spending money for you in the week. Check with your parents first, and use foods from the family cupboards to make yourself tasty lunchtime meals each day rather than spending a few pounds per day on canteen dishes. This might not seem like a huge saving, but it definitely adds up over time. Let’s say, for example, that you spend £5 each day on your lunch at school or college – by taking in a packed lunch instead, you’ll save £25 a week. And parents should take heed of this tip; they too could save money on their lunch at work by taking a packed lunch too!budgeting money saving finance tips for university freshers students_-2Sell Your Things

If you have any clothes that you have grown out of or items such as old toys, games and gadgets that you never use anymore, selling them is a great way to earn yourself some extra money. Although it’s best to check with your parents first – especially if they bought the item – listing anything that you no longer need on auction sites or other selling sites such as Gumtree can be a great way to earn yourself some extra spending money. Of course, you have to be over 18 years old to be a member of Ebay so perhaps work ‘in collaboration’ with your parents or older siblings and ask them to help you – for a cut of the profits, of course! Remember, though, it’s important to be reliable – nobody wants to buy something online for it to never turn up, or turn up weeks late, so be prepared to go to the post office every Saturday with your parcels. Great examples of things that you could sell online include nearly-new clothes, good condition shoes, unwanted (but brand new!) Christmas and birthday gifts, old gadgets (remove all your documents and photos first), and even textbooks after exam season.

Are you a teenager? How do you manage to have enough spending money to do the things that you want each month? Whether you have a part-time job, ask your parents, or are simply very thrifty, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below so please do get in touch and let me know your own money-saving tips.



My top tips for Christmas budgeting & saving

In our house the countdown to Christmas has begun. Not only am I super-excited that my favourite time of year is less than 10 weeks away, but I’m preparing myself in a thrifty sense too. We all know that the cost of Christmas can soon add up so this month I’ve started buying gifts to spread the cost. Plus, I’ve treated myself to some festive craft kits to help me and my family get into the festive spirit in the run up to December – well, you can never have too many handmade baubles can you?! Decorations aside, today I want to share with you some ideas for saving money this festive season and hopefully help with your financial planning too..!xmas christmas budget festive finances_-2

It may seem a little soon to be thinking about plans for Christmas;  after all, we’ve not even got Halloween or Bonfire Night out of the way yet! But planning ahead is a sure-fire way to make certain that you don’t overspend this Christmas. It allows you to save over the coming weeks, spread the cost and prevent costly impulse shopping at the last minute. With the average family spending £820 on Christmas (statistic from an interesting infographic by Alexander & Co accountants in Manchester) that can be a big hit on your bank account all at once so here are some ways to save a little cash this year while still enjoying the run-up to the big day.xmas christmas budget festive finances_-3

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Tips for choosing your ideal wedding venue

When you are planning a wedding there is an abundance of things to organise, but simply choosing the right wedding venue can help to relive some of the stress from the process. More and more wedding venues are becoming a ‘one stop shop’ for your big day and are able to provide in-house catering, entertainment and decorations, not to mention providing recommendations of trusted floral suppliers, beauticians and cake-makers. Ox Pasture Hall Wedding

image from Ox Pasture Hall Hotel

Many women already have an idea in their head of what their special day would look like. It’s essential to feel like a princess on your special day and have a fairytale wedding, but many women are putting the needs of others first when planning their wedding with the aim of trying to keep all of their guests happy. Although you’ll need to consider your guests while planning you wedding – in terms of location, accessibility and dietary requirements – it’s important not to worry too much about your guests (or trying to impress them!) as having the wedding you’ve always wished for is essential. You’re only getting married once, after all!

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My #SpendingDiary starts here!

I recently read a worrying report by the Children’s Society that one in 5 UK families are struggling with financial issues and suffering from ‘problem debt’ – meaning that they are a month behind on one or more bill payments. More importantly, the report highlighted the affect that this financial pressure was having on children, with many suffering with anxiety and being bullied at school because of their family’s problems. When I read details of the report on the Wilson Field blog I wanted to get involved to raise awareness of these personal finance issues so I’ve decided to join in with their #SpendingDiary campaign.

Spending Diary challenge for 2014-2

The Wealth Chef by Ann Wilson

I like to think that I’m rather well organised when it comes to sorting out my finances, but is hasn’t always been like this and I certainly struggled to make ends meet when I was a student! There’s nothing worse than being low on money with no idea of how to sort out the problem so this campaign is something that I really care about and the idea of putting some methods in place to keep track of money can only be a good thing! This is what I do at the moment to keep on top of my finances:

  1. Monthly spreadsheet on Excel which gives expected dates of money coming in and out (the dreaded bills) to show me how my bank account will balance at the end of the month and give me an idea of whether I need to cut back on anything during the month.

  2.  Pay my utility bills by monthly direct debit and always pay a little more than needed with the aim of always being ahead rather than getting a shock bill and being far behind (which happened a lot as a student!)

  3. Try to save a little each month for emergencies (car breakdowns etc) and for Christmas

I am sure there are many more accounting techniques or money saving ideas that I could use to improve my personal finance so I’m going to get started with my #SpendingDiary today and run it for the entire month of June. I am going to use this diary below to keep track of my actual day-to-day spending – you know, the little bits of money that just disappear from your purse on cups of tea and car-parking – to see how much money I I realistically need but never budget for. Plus I’m going to see whether I can cut back on my weekly food bill by using this handy shopping list pad to ensure that I only buy the food I actually need for planned meals rather than randomly grabbing things from the supermarket shelves. Surely that will help me save money in the long run? We shall see!

Spending Diary challenge for 2014-1

You can keep track of my progress on Twitter using the hashtag #SpendingDiary and see what all the other bloggers in the campaign are spending their money on too. I’ll be sure to report back at the end of the month and let you know how I get on, whether it’s good news or bad!

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Home is where the heart is

It’s the dream of all young couples isn’t it? Up there with getting married and having children, buying your own home is at the top of a lot of my friends’ and family’s wish lists. I’ve been adding ‘dream home’ pins to my Pinterest board all year, so even though I might not be living in the home of my dreams, I’ll be ready for it when I get there! But perhaps the dream of a home of our own is not so much of a priority since the whole recession/credit crunch thing: as a young married couple, my husband and I are still many many years away from buying a home of our own. We’ve been happily renting for the whole of our life together and although we’ve ‘settled’ in a couple of houses and thought that we’d be able to continue living there for the forseeable future, rises in rental prices have forced us to move out of our lovely rented farmhouse and into the world’s tiniest flat. We’ve since moved on another 2 occasions and although I feel like we are finally settled in a home we can afford, it’s still not quite the same as having a home you own. It makes you wary of decorating for a while (but I’ve started now and there’s no stopping me!) and it makes you think twice before planting something in the garden – why do you think my workshop is on wheels?!

Vintage Retro Sprite Caravan workshop office studio painted blue

I was therefore very interested to hear about the government’s “Help to Buy” scheme and I’ve reading a lot about it this week, with news updates pinging up on my laptop every day. Although it’s encouraging that young couples may soon have the opportunity to buy a home of their own, the 95% mortgages that the government are promising had pretty much disappeared since the start of the financial crisis, so even though its exciting to see them coming back, how come they are any better for us now? Apparently, it’s down to the lower interest rates that banks are offering – of course you will be more likely to get a better deal if you save up longer for a bigger deposit – nd buyers can get the home of their dreams “right now”. Great news for all of us who’ve been stuck in rental accommodation with no other options at all, huh?!

When the government started offering a 20% equity loan in April, I was unsure what this meant for homebuyers. I am not saying I wouldn’t use loans when I need to, but I’m a very wary spender and wouldn’t necessarily like to start off paying for a mortgage with a loan to repay too! Plus, I’m not sure that I could afford to buy any home in the area we currently live; house prices are still so prohibitive and I’m not into the idea of moving away from family and friends in order to buy one of these help-to-buy homes. I am therefore sticking with the idea that paying low rent and saving for a deposit (or as hubby and I like to say, saving for the whole house!) would be better for us than using the Help to Buy scheme at the moment. There’s more information on this on the BBC News website, so check it out for yourself and let me know what you think about it. In the meantime I will continue happily pinning-away on my ‘dream house’ Pinterest board and waiting for the right moment to buy – or build!

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