Budgeting with Children

October 3rd, 2015 — 10:44pm

We have recently undertaken a crafty creation here at Villa Lancaster having been set the challenge to decorate a paper mache piggy bank by Thinkmoney. The winning piggy bank will receive £200 to kick-start their savings with their piggy bank!

So it was time to think money and talk money with my little people. When it comes to life skills – reading, writing, numeracy and interpersonal communication, these skills all have a presence on the curriculum taking our children from early years through to adulthood. Since September 2014 financial education is now included for children from 11-16 year olds however research shows that three quarters of parents would like financial education to start in primary school. Given that in the UK we educate our youth into debt from age 18 should they choose to go to university isn’t it appropriate to educate them at the earliest opportunity about debt – how to save and avoid debt, how to manage debt and how to get out of debt?

My eldest H is very considered with his money, he saves and is very selective with his spending (he does not get this from me!) My daughter, Diva G, age very nearly 6 years old, is a big fan of shopping and finds money burns a hole in her pocket (I am guilty as charged!)  As she and I were decorating the piggy bank we talked about money, saving and financial tips I hope she would consider in life. The financial tips I’d like my children to grow up with are:

1. Earning comes first
To have money to save you have to first earn money by working. Grown ups have jobs, children can undertake tasks and chores at home to earn money.

2. Want or need?
There is a difference between wanting and needing something. Really ask yourself do I need this item? Do I have something similar or something else I could use instead? Could I borrow it from someone?

3. Keep focussed
Focus on what it is you really want, if it is expensive you will have to wait before you can buy something, putting it in a piggy bank or savings account will stop you spending your money on things you don’t need or want less and help you save for the special thing you really do want. We created a mini vision board by our piggy bank as a reminder and to keep front of mind the item being saved for. (Diva G got rather carried away with items and has several years of saving up ahead of her!)

4. Compare prices
At nearly 6 years old Miss G doesn’t really have any concept of what things actually cost but we talked about how different shops and stores online charge the different prices for the same thing. We also talked about how not everything needs to be new and pre-loved eBay purchases means money goes further. We use our technology to always look around for the lowest price. Always try to buy for the lowest price, why spend more when you don’t have to? Always check online and always ask yourself would it cost less somewhere else?

5. Give generously
There is more than your own self to consider when it comes to money and life in its broader sense. Spend, save or give to those who have less than you do. It’s important to me that my children recognise that they have so much already and actually don’t need more … Barbie, Frozen, Lego, whatever their current desire is. Learning to be content with what you have and to those who have less than you is just as valid a choice for the pennies in their hot little hands.

G and I both love a spot of decopatch so we set to with paper, brushes and glue. The paper we chose was printed with travel visa stamps and also tickets for the theatre, cinema, fairs, circus, festivals etc. I chose these to reinforce that travel, adventure, day trips etc all cost money. We have to save to be able to spend money on these things. Like many I book the majority of things online and therefore the cost of the cinema, the bowling, the holiday are all invisible to them because they don’t witness a transaction.

Here’s how our piggy bank decoration took shape.

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Diva G was keen to show you her piggy bank and tell you what she has learnt about saving. Did all those words of advice sink in?! Have a watch, is Diva G on a path of considered spending and saving? You tell me … and yes that is one mother of a birthday wish list, the kid can dream!

For the purpose of this post we were sent a paper mache piggy bank and a £30 Hobbycraft voucher for materials. All tips, opinions and views are my own.

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Win One of 10 Signed Children’s Book Sets

September 30th, 2015 — 9:38pm

If you haven’t yet been introduced to Colin The Cloud or his buddy Steve The Stratus then allow me to introduce you.

Signed Book Giveaway

Written by my good friend, fellow school run mum and TV weather forecaster Clare NasirColin the Cloud is a wonderful story of an individual realising their dreams. Colin is a little cloud that lives in the lower part of the sky, and for him life is boring. He wants to travel the world and see its wonders. So he seeks the guidance of a wise old cloud called Arif. Together they embark on an adventure to reach the top of the sky, where strong winds, the Jet Stream, take clouds on global routes.

Steve the Stratus is the second of what will be a series of five books. Steve the Stratus cloud is stressed – his job is to drizzle which makes everything grey and dreary. Luckily his friend Lisa has plans for a fabulous new career. But will this be enough to brighten up Steve’s day?  A funny and colourful story of friends following their dreams.  The tale provides a wonderful insight into the workings of weather.

To celebrate these first two books being joined by a third in November, Clare is giving away 10 signed sets of both books! These books are perfect for lovers of children’s stories and their beautiful illustrations and artwork are perfect additions to your children’s bookshelves as well as making perfect Christmas gifts. To enter the giveaway is simple, all you have to do is get social on the Rafflecopter widget below. The competition closes on the 1st November 2015.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

P.s. Clare is visiting schools throughout the UK sharing her weather knowledge as part of her book tour. If you would like Clare to visit your child’s school you can send her a message via the Colin The Cloud Facebook page.

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Home Wants: George & Willy Studio Roller

September 26th, 2015 — 10:20pm

I love lists. I live my life by lists. To do, to make, to buy, to watch, to call, to send. And yes anything I do that wasn’t on the list I add it on just so I can tick it off! Lists are how I roll! This studio roller rocks my world, perfect for the kitchen and Diva G would love one in the playroom too. My home needs this studio roller in it. Doesn’t yours?

George & Willy Studio Roller 1



Studio Roller, available from www.georgeandwilly.com, £120

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Latest Netflix Picks – Project Mc2 And More #StreamTeam

September 13th, 2015 — 9:05pm

As is traditional for our family, we up sticks from Cheshire and head to my parents cottage in the beautiful Port Isaac in Cornwall in summer. We know where we are going and what we need to take. A new addition this year was adding our perfectly portable Roku so we could continue to enjoy Netflix after full days on the beach, surfing and rock pooling.

Over the summer hols Mr L and I have enjoyed the viewing pleasures that are  …

The Returned, an unusual choice for us as we don’t really do the supernatural genre however this French story about a town where residents start to return from the dead and the associated upset, turmoil and consequences. There are 8 great episodes in season 1, I was gutted to discover that the show has been cancelled and there will be no season two. However thanks to the mighty power of twitter and Google I discovered The Returned is an adaptation of the French series Les Revenants. The original French series and season 1 is also available on Netflix and the good news is there is a season 2 of the French version which is out towards the end of September 2015 and we can’t wait!

What We Did On Our Holiday is a British comedy from the team that creates “Outnumbered” on BBC1, Billy Connolly, David Tennant and Rosamund Pike made us laugh and cry. We loved it and everyone we’ve suggested it to have also. 95 mins very well spent.

Narcos season 1. 10 episodes follow the rise and fall of Pablo Escobar, the notorious Colombian drug lord and the Drug Enforcement Agency agents hunting him. A wild and crazy cocaine fuelled and funded true story of the wealthiest criminal that ever lived!

Netflix Viewing Inspiration September

Mr H is 8 years old and loves a good movie, his top three movie picks from the summer break are The Spiderwick Chronicles, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events and Arthur and The Invisibles.

Netflix KS2 Viewing Inspiration September

For the little lady at Villa Lancaster, Diva G has been mostly enjoying Project Mc2. Any programme that makes being smart cool and puts the chic in geek, gets my thumbs up. Of course it comes with its own range of merchandise – smart and glam dolls, not slutty like Barbie, and they are all geared towards getting girls interested in science – gets my thumbs up – I have a BSc don’t you know!

project mc2 all dolls

Diva G has been loving her McKeyla McAlister doll which comes with instructions on how to combine vegetable oil, colouring and effervescent tablets to make a lava light.

mykela doll

With just three episodes available at the moment we can’t wait for more to be added, Here’s a sneak peak into the world of super smart girls McKeyla, Adrienne, Bryden, and Camryn and Project Mc2.

Also on my little girls playlist has been Zapped a Disney movie about a girl who has a dog training app that makes boys obey her every command and Mako Mermaids – real life mermaids living normal lives until come into contact with water. These are the choices of an almost six year old girl, what can I say? She loves them!

Netflix KS1 Girls Viewing Inspiration September

So tell me, what have you seen that I need to add to my watch list as the nights draw in? Drop me a comment to make sure I don’t miss out!


P.s. I am not being paid by Netflix, as a member of their Stream Team, I have been given a year of Netflix service. All viewing choices and opinions are my own.

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How To Keep Cosy This Autumn 2015

September 13th, 2015 — 10:05am

Autumn, the season that marks the transition from summer to winter, undoubtedly brings in a lot of joy, laughter and happiness. Why? Well, with the change in season, early nights and the weather getting cooler, most of us tend to spend more and more time indoors, and with our loved ones. Everyone wants to be snuggled up in the warm, watching the world outside the window slowly turn to winter.

This is also one of the perfect excuses for a lot of us out there to update our homes with new accessories and hues that are inspired by the season of autumn. I’ve listed some ideas to help you stay stylish but keep cosy this Autumn.

Get New Throw Pillows

The drop in temperature makes us want a cosy living room with a cosier sofa, and plush throw pillows are certainly one of the ‘must haves’ that will make it happen. Keep it interesting with a wide variety of colours, shapes, and sizes. Just ensure that you pick the right set of pillows so that they aren’t just comfy accessories but also a great means of adding a lot of warmth in your room.

autumn home updates cushionsImage source: https://www.danetti.com/living-furniture/accessories/cushions/optic-leaf-cushion

Layer Area Rugs

Want to add colour and texture to your floors? Why not try layering area rugs then. They are also an excellent choice if you want to avoid touching the tile or wooden floor with your feet, plus who wouldn’t enjoy the plush, extra cushioning and warmth that the rugs offer. Try cow hide, reindeer and / or sheepskin rugs, I have recently discovered Snug Rugs who offer great value, warm and practical floor coverings for just about any room. You can try out different variations and all of them should work as long as you ensure that the bottom rug pokes out a bit to show the layers.

layered rugs for autumn winterImage source: http://photos.hgtv.com/photo/living-room-with-cowhide-rug-

Change To Winter Friendly Shades

With summer slipping away, it is time to do away with those breezy curtains and bamboo shades. As winters will be approaching soon, you may want to insulate your home a bit more and add to the natural cosiness of your rooms as well. Duette double accordion pleat blinds has a honeycomb construction that helps block heat in and also absorb sound, making them the ideal choice for retaining heat during the cooler months as well as keeping rooms cool when summer comes back round.

Winter friendly window dressingsImage source: http://www.duette.co.uk/living-room-blinds/

Cosy Up The Patio

Autumn weather offers us perhaps the most comfortable evenings of the year and your favourite outdoor spot can be a great place to spend them. Patios and decks are just great for those lovely outdoor meals with your friends and family. In case the weather gets chilly, an outdoor heater or blankets are great for staying warm.

Cosy up the PatioImage source: http://www.decoist.com/2012-09-10/fall-decorating-tips-for-the-table/

Time For Winter Bedding

Last but not the least, you should now store away your summer quilts and bring in the much needed thermal blankets and comforters. A good comforter would not only keep you and your family warm during the cold nights but also help you save some money at the same time, since you’ll be too snug to even think about walking across the room to turn up the heating!

Autumn Winter Bedroom InspirationImage source: http://www.cntraveler.com/hotels/united-states/walland/blackberry-farm–great-smoky-mountains

Staying warm can also mean staying stylish with these few tips, experiment and see what keeps your home the cosiest this autumn! Share your thoughts about what is on your home wish list this autumn on a comment below…

This post was contributed free of charge by Shanon O’Donnell, a student writer gaining some online writing experience. 

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