Archive for the ‘Frugal Living’ Category

Getting free samples is always satisfying. Yesterday I went to the dentist’s which is never a cause for celebration in my book, even when it’s only for a check up but I did manage to get some free toothpaste samples whilst I was there. I am taking three of the children for a check up this week so I’ll be sure to get some more free samples then. The secret to bagging a few free samples is not being shy – if you don’t ask you don’t get!!
free samples from the dentist

There are a lot of online resources dedicated to letting you know about all the latest free samples. Large companies give away free samples hoping that you like their products and go on to purchase their products on a regular basis. This week as well as mystery shopping I have found out I have been accepted on to two new consumer test panels. Being accepted on to consumer test panels means you are typically given free products before they are launched to test and give your feedback to the companies concerned. In the past I have done this for a large cosmetics company but I am now trying to target  consumer test panels for groceries so I can make my money stretch a bit further on the household food shopping bill.

Places to find free samples

  • Student Cash – not just for students – freebies, price glitches & reduced price items
  • Magic Freebies – free stuff from solar panels to product samples
  • Hot UK Deals – hot deals, free samples & UK competitions
  • Facebook – a hunt around Facebook can be profitable. Just by liking a producer you are often able to request a free sample.

If you know of other sites dedicated to bringing you links to free samples please feel free to add them as comments.


Raising chickens for eggs always becomes more popular during a recession and more people seem to be getting a couple of back yard hens for egg production. We have two garden hens who very generously provide us with two eggs a day. Our chickens are Columbian blacktails which is a hybrid bred specifically for egg production. They are in their second year of lay so in theory their egg production should be starting to reduce, but so far nobody seems to have told the girls.
Raising chickens for eggs

According to Channel 4’s Super Scrimpers programme based on having two hens raising chickens for eggs will save you about £150 a year. You also know have the assurance that your eggs truly are fresh daily and are free range. Keeping hens in the back garden or yard is not difficult. If you live in a flat it may not be practical, but you could always rent an allotment and put a few chucks on there.back yard hens

What you need for raising chickens for eggs

  •  A coop – we purchased a ready made one in financially rosier times. Making your own is a lot cheaper and there are plenty of plans for chicken coops online.
  • Woodshavings for the floor of your coop – agricultural merchants sell large bags and are cheaper than pet shops
  • Food for your chickens – what type of food your birds require will depend on what age your girls are when you get them. If they are just about to start laying when you buy them or already in lay you will need layers pellets. I pay about £8 for a 20 kilo sack which seems to last forever.
  • Oyster shell – this helps your girls with egg shell production
  • Containers for food and water
  • Hens!! When you are raising chickens for eggs do some research and pick a breed you like the look of. If you are new to poultry keeping I recommend hybrid hens as opposed to pure breeds as being bred for egg production they are hardy and will give you the best return for your money.


Cut price hair cuts at Barnsley College

In an effort to cut my outgoings even more this week I’ve been looking in to cut price hair cuts. My hair has been coloured a variety of shades since I was the tender age of thirteen so I wanted to find somewhere I could get my hair cut and coloured at a budget price.  I’ve tried leaving longer periods between hair appointments, but this has resulted in my kids begging me to go to the hairdresser as my appearance gradually degenerated in to unkempt cave woman with issues.

The other options I’ve trialed have been alternating between visiting an expensive salon and a cheaper one at varying intervals and just having my hair cut by a hairdresser but colouring my hair at home. My home hair colouring has been hit and miss with some very patchy results so I wanted to find somewhere that would give me the cut price hair cuts I desired and colour my hair at the same time.

Well today I went and had my hair cut at the local college. The cost for a cut and colour was £21. This is a quarter of the price the expensive salons charge locally and less than I would pay just for a cut in a cheaper salon. The college as well as offering cut price hair cuts and hair treatments also offers budget beauty treatments.

So was my cut price hair cut and colour a disaster? Well sorry to disappoint but I  was very pleased with the end result and will be going again in the future. Students are supervised by their tutors at all times so the chances of your cut price hair cuts turning in to cut price disasters are slim. If you’ve a local college I’d definitely recommend giving them a call to see if you can further the education of the next generation of hairdressers at the same time as getting yourself regular cut price hair cuts. Some local salons also offer this service if you volunteer as a model for trainees so it’s well worth asking.

UK Cashback

I’m a big fan of UK Cashback sites and as you can see from the screenshot above at my favourite cashback site Quidco I am well on my way to achieving £1000 in cash back. Cashback sites work by paying you back a proportion of the money you spend online with different merchants. The money is paid direct in to your bank account at regular intervals. You can even set the level at which you wish to get paid say once your cash back reaches £10 or £20. Some merchants will pay you back in cash more than the value of the item you have purchased to try to attract you to their sites.

The disadvantage of all UK cashback sites is that you must order goods by clicking on links at their sites to track your purchase and in some instances the tracking software does not work so you will not get paid. Cashback may also be declined by the merchant for a number of reasons so please be mindful that you will not always get your cashback as advertised.  However, if you have shopped around and already made the decision to make an online purchase checking a  UK Cashback site before you proceed with your purchase doesn’t cost you anything and will usually result in cash back you wouldn’t otherwise have had so you haven’t got anything to lose.

I love Quidco

If you have decided to live a more frugal lifestyle there are lots of things you can decide you no longer need and can do with out, but food is not one of them so to reduce your food spend you are going to have to look at cheap meals you can cook.  I like to look at cooking cheaply as a challenge – the more mouths you have to feed then the more money you can save.

sausages-onion-gravyHaving been hood winked in to feeding my family horse meat recently (thanks  Asda corn beef) I decided to look at different options for buying meat. I no longer trust the supermarkets and when I looked at buying my meat from farm shops with high welfare standards their prices were outside my budget. I want to be able to cook cheap meals for my family but I do not want to compromise on the quality of the ingredients I am using. Cheap meals shouldn’t have to mean feeding your family horse!

I did some searching online and discovered Westin Gourmet which lets you order gourmet meat online at competitive prices. My first order was for 20kg of chicken breasts which entitled me to 18 free sausages and free delivery. This may seem a lot of chicken to order all in one go but my oldest son and a couple of his friends have already bought 6kg of chicken from me at cost price so I have a mini meat co-operative now.

Earlier in the week I’d used a £50 e-voucher earned by accumulating nectar points against my weekly shop which I had delivered from Sainsbury’s and which came to just under £13, so had lots of ingredients waiting to make cheap meals for my family. Sausages are always popular in our house so I decided that had to be the first thing I tried from my Westin Gourmet order.

Step 1 – I chopped up 1.5kg of onions from my weekly shop and gently fried them for 30 minutes adding a dessert spoon of  sugar to maximize the sweetness of the onions.  You have to make sure you constantly turn the onions to avoid them sticking and burning so no wandering off! When the onions had caramelised nicely I put 2/3 of them in a container in the fridge to make quiches the next day when I had more time.

Step 2 – Brown the sausages. I did this in a frying pan turning the sausages for an even colour, but you could be healthier and oven cook them.

Step 3 – To make the gravy take your already caramelized onions and add them to a pan with  a heaped spoon of plain flour. Mix these together then pour in approximately a pint of boiling water with a beef stock cube dissolved in it.  Simmer the mixture on a low heat until your gravy starts to thicken.

Step 4 – Serve your sausages and onion gravy with freshly cooked vegetables. We chose to use carrots, runner beans and mashed potatoes as that’s what we had in.

If you are vegetarian or vegan this meal could easily be adapted for you by using vegetarian / vegan sausages and making the onion gravy using a non meat stock cube.  Onion gravy also is a great accompaniment to nut roasts and burgers.

Happy cooking and I’ll be sharing another cheap meal recipe with you soon featuring the left over caramelized onions.

Hi and welcome to my new frugal living blog. I am Frugal Living Mum a mother of 5 children based in Barnsley. I’ve had the good fortune to live in a household with a very healthy combined six figure income and I’ve experienced the challenge of living below the poverty line.  I am self employed and have seen my income fall recently, so along with a lot of families my personal finances fall in to the “could do better” school report category. If you are in a similar situation and looking for ways to save money or make your money go further this is the blog for you.

frugal livingAs a child growing up in the 1970’s my mother fell firmly in to the aspirational self sufficiency movement. When other families were tucking in to the all new ready meals my mum was showing us how to grow plants and bake our own bread. At the time as a child wanting to be like every other family I did not appreciate the valuable life skills she was teaching me. Now I am eternally grateful for her investment of time and effort as a parent. She gave me a lot of the tools needed to start my frugal living journey which I’ll be sharing with you.

My personal idea of frugal living is living well for less; I do not wish to live like a pauper but I do want to get the most I can out of the money I  have.  My idea of what “living well” means will of course be different from yours so frugality is very much a subjective term. Some people practice frugal living to reduce debts, to live within restricted means or as a way to save towards the lifestyle they want in the future. Whether you have decided to give living frugally a try permanently or temporarily I hope you will gain some new ideas from the blog.

My next blog posts will be showing you how to save money on your food bills including cheap meals for the frugal family.  Nothing too advanced and no special equipment needed!