The last few years have really taken their toll on us financially and we have no savings. However, we are in a really fortunate position in that (aside from overdraft) we have no debts as we have no credit cards or loans other than our mortgage. We made a conscious decision to organise our finances like this because we had found ourselves in quite a lot of debt before we had children and we didnt want to repeat that situation.
Unfortunately before Christmas we were burgled and we have finally go the insurance payout. Its not a lot of money, however, a lot of what was taken was my grandmothers antique jewellery which simply cannot be replaced. I’ve thought long and hard what to do with the money, whether I should attempt to buy some nice jewellery to make up for it. But, lets face it, it wont be the same will it. So, i’ve decided that I’m going to for the first time in many years, put some money into savings.
When you start looking at saving accounts there is a bewildering amount of information. I’ve been reading The Telegraph money section for the past six months to try to get a flavour of what to do with finances and focussing since Christmas on savings (possibly for moving house, university fees and rainy day emergencies). I’ve also been wanting to do something with the eldest children’s Child Trust Funds. One of the brands which is often mentioned is Nutmeg, so when they invited me to have a look at what they offer I thought I’d dive into their website.
Nutmeg is an online investment fund. This means that unlike a traditional savings account where you put money into the account in exchange for interest, Nutmegs Investment Managers will invest the money in a portfolio of stocks and shares for you and you’ll get the profits. There are loads of different options and ways to save with them, but there is an element of risk. Given that you’ll effectively lose money by putting it into a savings account at the moment due to inflation you don’t have a lot to lose.
I selected the ‘Try Nutmeg Out’ button on their website to see what the variables would be before I signed up for various accounts. I thought this was incredibly useful and interesting. If I set my risk level at medium and invested a reasonable amount each month even with an ISA I would potentially make far more than if I invested in a standard high street ISA. Interesting. I’d urge you to have a go here on the Nutmeg website, its quite quick to do but there are so many options that you’ll find yourself trying them all out to get the best return.
If I haven’t explained that very clearly then do check out this YouTube video which is helpful:
Overall, its looking increasingly likely that I’m going to put my money into Nutmeg and see what happens over the next few years. I’m trying exceptionally hard to be very frugal with my spending at the moment and i’m becoming quite adept at saving and utilising coupons. The other day I saved nearly £50 by adept use of coupons in Waitrose. Silly though it sounds, any money which I save on these coupons at the end of my till receipt i’m putting to one side for the savings account. Its one way of saving when you don’t have any spare. I’m also trying to drag us out of the monthly overdraft by finding bits of freelance work here there and everywhere. Slowly our finances are improving, long may it last Perhaps this time next year I’ll be able to show you my Nutmeg statement!
One of the stories which fascinated me as a young girl was the story of the Cottingley Fairies. I loved the idea that these two little girls had found fairies at the bottom of their garden. I think it was made even more magical by the fact that it was such an interesting time in history towards the end of the First World War. I loved to see the pictures of them in their pretty clothes with the fairies and that started me off on a lifelong interest in fairies and folklore.
Fairytale: A True Story is based on these events which turned out to be a fraud. It has an excellent script and some really high profile actors including Harvey Keitel, Peter O’Toole and Paul McGann. The little girls playing the Wright sisters are fantastic actors and play their parts really well. As an adult I really enjoyed this film, I must admit it wasn’t entirely historically accurate and so I felt the ‘true story’ aspect of the title was a little misleading. Its quite a complex and slow film and I think my children were a little bit young for it. I would say though that if your child is interested in fairies then its suitable for about aged 8 onwards.
If you are looking for something you can watch with the children this Easter then I think this is a great film to go out and get. I enjoyed the film and there are not that many I can sit through with them to watch on DVD! If you’d like to find out a little bit more have a look at the trailer:
The law recently changed in the UK to enable both parents to take time off to look after their newborn. The introduction of Shared Parental Leave will make a big difference to a wide range of families and I think its a very good thing.
When I had my children this would have been impossible to even think of and in fact, my husband went back to work a week after my children were born because we couldn’t afford for him to take the statutory payments as we would not have been able to pay the mortgage. It was a challenging time for me and I don’t think the situation would be changed now.
However, 6 months down the line I think that we may have had a little re-think. After 6 months of motherhood, if you had been working full time this is the time when you think that its actually quite nice to get back into the sane world or work. This can also make a difference to your career as a woman because it demonstrates the value that you place on your career. I know that quite simply to go back to work and leave the baby with my husband would have done me the world of good mentally. I think it would also have been a memorable and important time for the husband!
As you all know I was thrilled to be able to contribute to the SMA Nutrition B.A.B.Y. campaign where they asked everyone to submit their best pieces of baby advice. I still maintain that my one about changing your baby on the floor is ultimately the best (not really), but it was really interesting to hear everyone’s tips and to be honest, even I after three babies found some of the advice useful.
These ones are my favourites as they are genuinely useful bits of advice and I think they reinforce the idea that the most important thing is to enjoy your baby. It’s so important to spend time with him or her and to try really hard not to compare yourself or your baby with others.
‘My baby had colic, and she was suffering in pain. My health visitor advised me to take my baby and sit with her in a nice warm bath. This helps mum and baby relax together and calm down. Also it helps baby and mum bond together much more easily.’ From Nikolett Nagy
‘Babies’ and toddlers’ brains are sponges and they learn through play and communication. It’s so important that when we can be frustrated when they’re learning to encourage them to learn how to behave properly through play and how we act.’ From Sheila Luby
‘Don’t worry if your little one isn’t doing everything by the book. No book can tell you when they’ll start crawling, walking, eating solids, talking. As long as you’re giving them all the love and encouragement they need, they will get there in their own time. I wish I had spent less time worrying about my little boy and more time enjoying him because once they are on the move there’s no going back!’ From Lucie Herridge
SMA Nutrition’s website is a brilliant resource if you are a new parent or not. From direct personal experience I can also recommend their Careline which at various points when I was a new mum, was invaluable.
Disclaimer: I was given an incentive to take part in the campaign, I really enjoyed telling you my tips and hearing from others.
David Tazzyman is a fabulous illustrator who is responsible for one of our favourite bedtime reads: Eleanors Eyebrows and so we had high hopes for this book and we weren’t disappointed. Patricia Cleveland- Peck has written a fabulous rhyme which skips off the tongue as you read, making it thorough enjoyable. It has everything that you could wish for in a picture book, humour, ridiculous situations and imagination stimulating scenarios. Quite frankly, this is picture book writing and illustration at its very best.
As a family we all unanimously loved this book. Its an adventure in transport with brilliant imaginative scenarios, illustrated perfectly. I can’t praise it more highly than to say so far this year its one of the top five pictures we have read and we have read and reviewed a lot.