Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Cash Back Sites - Lorraine Allman

If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to make some extra cash you could do worse than sign up with a ‘cash back’ web site. In this guest blog, Lorraine tells us how she discovered cash back sites for the first time and how they have now become a part of her normal online shopping routine. She also gives some top tips for getting the best out of cash back sites and making every penny count so grab a cuppa, get reading, and start earning!

I have to confess until 2 years ago I hadn’t heard of cash back sites until sat in the local pub with a friend one evening who started telling me how she was planning to spend the £200 that had accumulated in her cash back account. I looked at her quizzically and she explained that by simply completing most of her online shopping via a cash back site she was able to earn money that over time mounted up to a tidy sum.
Intrigued, the next day I had a look around and sure enough quickly came across the two sites she had recommended – Top Cashback  and Quidco.  Signing up was quick and easy, within minutes I was shopping online through the sites and potentially earning cash.  In my eagerness to start earning cash however I didn’t follow some of the basic rules of shopping via cash back sites and on several occasions didn’t actually get the best deal I could have.

Fast forward 2 years and I’ve received over £600 back in cash payments. It’s surprising how the cash has mounted up but I always try to renew my annual insurances such as car, household, pet etc. through a cash back site. This gets me into the habit of ‘shopping around’ for the best deal (I was never good at this to be honest, it was easier to just accept the renewal notice but times have changed and switching insurers is second nature now!) and if I have a larger one-off purchase to make then I will always see what deals are being offered through cash back as there are often discount codes available too.  There are also frequently good deals to be had by switching utility suppliers but be warned that if you’re switching request is anything other than straightforward you may end up losing out on the cash back. For example I was moving house and took the opportunity to switch electricity supplier while I was at it. I got a good deal and a potentially tidy sum (around £80) for switching via the cash back site but because of the house move and the meter installed by the previous owner, it wasn’t a straightforward switch so I had to speak with someone on the phone and ended up missing out on the cash back.

I’ve become wiser to the best way of using cash back sites so if you aren’t already using them you can benefit from my experience!  If you are already using them then it wouldn’t hurt to take a quick look through these top tips just to make sure you are using them to best effect.
So, here are my top tips for using cash back sites.  I hope you find them helpful and more importantly hope you start to reap the rewards soon.
·    Don’t buy through cash back sites just for the cash being offered no matter how tempting it is. You need to view the cash back as a bonus on top of any discount you might be able to get.
·    There are no guarantees that cash back will be paid out. Occasionally things can go wrong and for a variety of reasons you don’t get the cash.  Good cash back sites will often try to resolve any issues but this can be a lengthy process so again the key is not to rely on the money.
·     Always make sure you clear your computer history of web sites browsed as cash back sites rely on ‘cookies’ (small pieces of code which track where you’ve come from and what you’ve browsed) so if your history or ‘cache’ isn’t cleared the system may not recognise your purchase as a new transaction valid for cash back.
·     Not all cash back sites pay out 100% so think carefully about which ones you sign up to. The best bet is to use just one or two on a regular basis otherwise you’ll end up having small amounts of money across lots of different sites which defeats the object as many will have a minimum pay-out threshold so you may not see much of your money
·    Be careful with ‘click and collect’ options with high street stores such as Argos as they are often not included as valid cash back transactions. Check the small print before you click through to make your purchase.
·    I live in a rural part of Wales so for me online shopping is an essential. However bear in mind that if you are buying goods online rather than going to the store, you will almost always incur some kind of charge for postage which may then cancel out the cash back amount due (this is particularly true of very small cash back percentages such as 5% of the total sale usually excluding p&p, which for an item of say £50 will actually mean only £2.50 cash back. In this case if the p&p charges are equivalent or higher than £2.50 you’ll probably be better off popping along to your local store and buying the item.
·    Unlike my friend, don’t let the money accumulate in your cash back accounts. As soon as you exceed the threshold for transferring go ahead and request the payment. It should normally take just a few days to reach your account.

Happy saving!

Lorraine Allman is a busy mum and also MD at Speed Mentor Central® - a company providing access to online expertise and services for entrepreneurs and small businesses.  She has been running businesses for over 14 years including establishing one of the first online business information portals in the UK to running a highly successful business and educational research company.
You can follow Lorraine on Twitter @beindemand

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Mummy Money Saving Tips!

A while ago I asked some lovely Mummies for thier top money saving tips and this is what they came up with:

“Buy toys, equipment clothes etc at he NCT nearly new sales.”

“Join Freecycle - all sorts of unwanted items offered for free on there, or you can post a wanted if you need something.”

“Best money saving tip I would give is save as soon as you know you're expecting ... I can't believe how much money we frittered away whilst DINKies!! (Double Income no Kiddies)” 
Emma of

”Meal planning, before going shopping write out a list of 7 meals i will use for the week ahead and what i need to make them, then on my shopping list only put the things I NEED to stock up on, and stick to this list when shopping without going off buying 'deals' “

“Use online banking, regularly checking incoming and outgoing money.”

”Switch to 'own brands' everything taste the same its just cheaper to buy.”
Kerri of

“It's very basic advice, but I always buy in bulk for things like nappies & wet wipes as you're going to use them eventually & the more you buy the cheaper they are.  It pays to shop around a bit & know where the deals are on too as there's always one somewhere.”
Cathy, Taunton

"Making sure you have loyalty cards such as Tesco / Nectar as they come in handy at Christmas.  We only saved £15 in vouchers for Tesco this year but we doubled it so had £30 to spend on toys ... excellent money saving for us :)”
Joanne of

“I have a four year old and an 18 month old; one of my tips to save (or to NOT spend needlessly) is to give my eldest pocket money and to encourage a little bit of understanding.  So when we're in the supermarket and she's asking me to buy her something I can explain that it costs money and that she'll need to use her own pocket money!  It works... most of the time!  The thing you need to do is never give in, or they expect it all the time!”
Claire, Taunton for Tots

"Buy your toys second-hand from ebay (or wherever). Your kids won't notice or care and you will get three times as many for your money."
Vicky, Taunton

“Get the best value for Tesco clubcard vouchers by using them for days out and the sun (or other newspapers) £9.50 holidays are an absolute bargain. My girls love them.”

“I keep any paper that is blank on the back in a pile by the pc, the girls can paint and scribble all they like, I hardly ever give them new sheets, unless I think I'll want to send them to anyone, I also use it for any printing (maps etc) that won't matter.”
Elaine, Taunton

"Be a wise shopper and buying nearly new quality clothes for your little ones instead of splashing out on the high street! After all they grow out of them so quickly and it leaves you with a bit more cash for the other things... like a much needed latte or a well deserved glass of wine at the end of the week!"
Vicky, Looking Good Baby! Taunton:

“Join Sainsbury's Little Ones and Boots Parenting Clubs. Lots of vouchers/tips in magazines.”

“Stocking up when deals such as Sainsbury's 1/3 off baby and Asda baby week event.”

"Always check online for items you've seen instore. Websites like Kiddicare and Practical Puschairs have much better deals than in stores.”
Jackie, Taunton

"Join the local library - we buy some books new, some second hand, and borrow some from the library."
Georgi Rollings of

And my top tip is to visit comparison websites before you buy ANYTHING (either online or in store) to find out where the best deal is.  Then check voucher codes sites and cash back sites to see how much more money you can save! 
(There will be more on the best sites to use soon.)

What's your top money saving tip?  Please leave a comment below! :o)

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Save money with the Utility Warehouse Discount Club - Julie Brooke


Save money with the Utility Warehouse Discount Club

You may not have heard of the Utility Warehouse before – that’s the secret to saving lots of money! The company does not advertise in the national press or on TV. Instead, it relies on personal recommendation; satisfied customers letting their friends, family and colleagues know about the savings they have made. The company passes the savings it makes on to its members – by charging less.

Price Promise
The Utility Warehouse Price Promise means you can benefit from:
·         The UK’s cheapest Home Phone
·         The UK’s cheapest Home Phone and Broadband bundle
·         The UK’s cheapest Mobile tariffs
·         The UK’s cheapest standard Gas and Electricity

Or they will give you back Double the Difference!

Charges, terms and conditions apply. For full details of the Utility Warehouse Price Promise see

Helping you switch
The Utility Warehouse will even reimburse up to £50 of early termination fees charged by your previous supplier(s) when you switch your services to them.

For a limited period (until 24 March 2012), the Utility Warehouse will refund up to £200 of early termination fees charged by your previous supplier(s) 

No minimum contract term
The Utility Warehouse is so confident that you’ll be happy with the money you save that most services have no minimum contract term, so you’re not tied in. If you're not totally happy with the money you save and the Utility Warehouse’s award-winning UK-based customer service team, you can go back to your current supplier's higher prices at any time!

The Utility Warehouse Price Promise means you can benefit from:
The UK’s cheapest standard Gas and Electricity Or they will give you back Double the Difference!

Charges, terms and conditions apply. For full details of the Utility Warehouse Price Promise see

You'll be amazed at how much the Utility Warehouse could save you compared with the cheapest standard direct debit tariffs available from their competitors. And once you've transferred your energy to the Utility Warehouse you can relax, confident in the knowledge you'll always receive a really great deal with their unique 'Triple Value' guarantee.

'Triple Value' guarantee
The Utility Warehouse provides customers with complete peace of mind on their energy bills. They compare their prices every month against the average of the cheapest direct debit tariffs available from each of the 'Big 6' suppliers*, on a like-for-like basis and will adjust their prices on a regular basis if necessary.
1.   For your gas, they guarantee their prices will always be cheaper than British Gas,    wherever you live in the UK.
2.   For your electricity, they guarantee their prices will always be cheaper than the prices charged by the regional electricity supplier for the area where you live.
3.   And for your complete peace of mind, they guarantee their prices will always remain competitive compared with the cheapest standard tariffs available from the 'Big 6' suppliers*.
*'Big 6' means the six major energy companies who currently supply over 98% of UK households, comprising: British Gas, E.ON, npower, EDF, Scottish Power and Scottish & Southern Energy. Guarantees and price comparisons are based on the OFGEM standard domestic usage profiles for low, medium and high users  on a like-for-like basis, and exclude Club Membership fee, surcharge for gas customers using an Independent Gas Transporter, dual-fuel discounts and online tariffs. Applies to residential energy customers who pay by direct debit only.

10% Extra Discount on Energy
You can get an extra 10% discount on the energy you have used (gas, electricity or dual fuel) after you have been with the Utility Warehouse for a year. Ask me for details!

Feed-In Tariffs (FITs)
With the Utility Warehouse Feed-In Tariffs, you could save money – or even make money – by generating your own electricity at home, using solar panels or wind turbines. The Utility Warehouse will pay you more than any other supplier for the electricity you generate. Ask for details!

Julie Brooke
Authorised Distributor
The Utility Warehouse
Telephone: 07817 032484

A note from Pennies 4 Parents:
This is not a sponsored post and I have received no payment in order to feature it.
I just think it is something my readers may be interested in finding out more about. :o)

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

New Baby Presents that save money! - Rebecca Leek, NapNap

Here at NapNap we are always being told that the NapNap Voucher is a brilliant idea. We know! We are rather proud of it ourselves. And when people ask us how we thought of it, we are ready with our answer. When we had our first babies (and second and third!) we were given bundles of presents. Now this was obviously lovely and some were useful. However, we certainly now have enough babygrows and teddies between us to keep a baby army happy. At the same time, we had both chosen to use cloth nappies. 

Cloth nappies are much cheaper in the long run (especially if you are going to have more than one child) and are better for the planet and your baby's bottom. However, although they do work out cheaper, the initial buy can seem a lot. You can get started with a handful and ease yourself in but the idea of spending two or three hundred pounds feels like a fortune. In fact, it was what I spent the most money on when I was pregnant with my first (although I am the smug one now, pregnant with my third, not having spent any more on nappies since number one was born). So nappies would have been the best and most useful present. 

However, nappies are quite personal. Once you do a bit of research on the web, you discover that there are lots of different types. For example, will you choose a birth-to-potty, extending type that gets bigger as your baby grows? Or will you go for sized nappies where you need some in each size. It's a bit of a minefield. And that's why the NapNap Voucher was born - it can be used in lots of different places. So you can effectively ask for nappies for your new baby present but you still get to choose them yourself. The best of both worlds!

Disposable nappies are a false economy - they feel cheaper at the checkout but are much more expensive in the long run. We follow the philosophy of the NapNap Voucher with the other products we sell. Although some of the gifts in our online store, the Really Eco Baby Shop, can seem a bit more expensive than budget options, they are top quality, will last, are useful and are also kind to the planet. For example, our tin of crayons is more expensive than packs on the supermarket shelves. But we stock these because they are the only set of crayons that has lasted in this NapNap household. They are chunky, good quality, made of beeswax with no nasties, and come in a sturdy tin that is great to pop in the nappy bag. What other set of crayons lasts two years? 

So pop over to The Really Eco Baby Shop to see our philosophy in action. Do some guilt free shopping this Christmas. You will know that whether it's a NapNap Voucher, an organic baby-grow, or a wind-up toy, the gift will last and last. Be kinder to the planet and give a gift that won't end up gathering dust in a corner somewhere or getting broken before the 12 days of Christmas are out! - for advice an information on cloth nappies, where you can exchange your NapNap Voucher and much more. - gifts for all the family that are kind to the planet, including the NapNap Voucher.

Follow us on Twitter @napnaphq and @really_eco_baby

Find us on Faebook:

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Money Saving Expert (aka THE Best Money Saving & Advice Website in the UK!)

My regular followers will know that I am a HUGE fan of Martin Lewis and his website. 
You may have seen various links to his articles and videos in previous posts here on Pennies 4 Parents. 

Photo used by kind permission from Martin - thank you!

Many of you will know Martin as the fast talking money guy from TV shows such as DaybreakLorraine and Watchdog. is THE place to go for advice on saving money, consumer rights, finding the best deals on just about everything, reclaiming money, and a whole lot more!

Martin set the website up in 2003 for £100.  Today, it has 10 million monthly users and there is a 30 strong team behind him.  I wouldn’t like to even take a guess at just how much money his tips and advice has saved people!

I advise everyone to visit the site and sign up for Martin’s weekly email where you’ll get hot-of-the-press news and deals, advance warnings of sales about to start and really important advice that I don’t think you’d find anywhere else but really should be finding out about!

The website has a dedicated Family, Income and Benefits section: - a must read for any parent.
Here you will find advice on everything from Childcare Costs and Tax Credits to Student Loans.

Martin continuously campaigns to raise awareness of financial issues. His current big campaign is to “Make financial education a compulsory part of the school curriculum” - something that I think is really important for parents to get involved with.  For more information see here.  To sign the petition please click here.

You can follow Martin on Twitter: @MartinSLewis

And become a fan on Facebook

Find out more about him in this short biography video