11 Of Our Top for getting the best mobile phone contract

[AD] There are countless ways in which we use our mobile phones these days, and knowing that everything from a quick message to a Youtube video is at the touch of your fingertips is often a reassuring way to justify those high-priced contracts.

However, it is important to recognise when you are spending too much and where you can cut costs to ensure you are only paying for what you really need. These top tips have been put together as a simple aid for you, to help you make the best of any contract.

Top Tips for Saving On Your Phone Bill

The cheapest deal on the surface may not always be best

Some deals can be too good to be true as they are often concealing possible hidden charges and penalties, for example, having to buy internet add-ons when you run out of data and huge costs for overuse. Yes, even a few megabytes over your allowance could cost you, for example Vodafone charge £6.50 for every 250mb of data over!

Work out your usage and go from there when deciding how much data you really need. The sweet spot is looking at your average monthly usage and having a little bit to cover you. Using about 1GB a month? Then 2GB is ample.

Stick within your limits

There is nothing worse than going over your data limit and being slapped with those charges for internet overuse. As well as looking for the best contract with the data allowance you really need (and be realistic here – if you like watching videos on the go then your allowance needs to be high!), make sure you also edit your settings to work with Wi-Fi where possible.

Don’t bother with mobile phone insurance

Coverage in case of an accident is important, but it is easy to overspend on insurance. It is worth checking whether your phone is covered by your home insurance first, and if not consider self-insuring by putting money aside rather than paying an insurance firm.

Think twice about cashback deals

Cashback may seem like an attractive bonus, but often companies do not make it easy to claim and so you will find yourself trawling through monthly bills just to get a few pounds back. Make sure it is worth it, and where possible look for deals with instant cashback rather than redemption deals.

Don’t keep paying the same amount when your contract has ended

Check up on the length of any contract you sign up for, and then ensure they don’t increase their prices each year. Once you are tied to a contract it becomes very easy to forget about it and keep the direct debits leaving your account – how often do you actually check the numbers and look for increases? Stick with shorter contracts and make sure to keep an eye on your accounts and what is leaving them each month.

Travelling outside the EU?

Does the contract allow for overseas usage? If texts and calls abroad are covered, great! If not, you are facing huge costs the second you turn on your data. Check out the overseas allowance and make sure you stick to it. Three is the best for this with their feel at home product which also works in the USA.

Go SIM Only

Could SIM-only work for you? By opting for a SIM-only contract, you really do pay for what you use, thus avoiding extra charges and overuse fees. With this option you can source the phone and contract separately, giving yourself the choice of handset you want and still keeping costs down in the long run – though in this instance you will have to face the initial upfront cost to purchase the handset.

The other good choice is to use a  pay as you go SIM (this site has ranked and compared them with giffgaff coming top). This used to mean topping up manually and each time you use your phone some of your credit is used up. But now with bundling the networks offer set amounts of data, minutes and texts that last 30 days. This puts you fully in control as you cannot overspend and there are no tie ins

Test out the networks

Check out the networks available and see how well they fare in your area. Do they have a good signal where you live? Do they have good customer service reviews generally? These are all important to look at when you are choosing the best contract for you. You might even want to test networks out temporarily first with a pay as you go SIM before tying yourself into a longer deal.

Don’t be afraid to haggle

Haggle! You never know what you can get unless you try, and you may well end up with a discounted monthly charge if you show your loyalty by haggling to stay with the same network. After all, they don’t want you to give your money to another network and so will more than likely accept a lower fee to keep you as a customer.

Compare Deals

Use comparison tools and online sites to review the best options according to your needs and usage. uSwitch, Moneysupermarket, Tiger Mobiles etc all have easy to use filters to find deals.

Don’t discount MVNO or smaller networks

Explore the option of smaller networks, as these are often more likely to give you better details in order to win and retain your custom. giffgaff, 1pmobile, Asda and Superdrug are all worth looking into.

 

Five Spring Wardrobe Essentials

[AD] Now that the winter is nearly over, my thoughts are turning to updating my spring wardrobe. So I have been doing a little research to identify the latest trends. Here are some of my favourites.

Linen is back…

Looking at the Fashion World website it is clear that linen is very much back on trend. Currently, this retailer and many others are stocking all kinds of items made from this wonderful natural fabric. It is great for regulating your body temperature and wearing it is good for the environment.

Keep an eye out for trousers and shorts made from linen. But, be a little careful with this fabric. It can wrinkle quite badly, so usually it is best to buy linen mix items.

Later in the year, you can expect to see linen jackets being made widely available. When choosing which trousers you buy bear this in mind and try to buy cuts that will look good when worn with a semi-formal linen jacket.

If it has been a while since you owned linen, you might like to read this post. It explains how to take care of this wonderful fabric.

Comfy trousers…

Widelegged or slouch trousers are a big trend. They are very comfortable, but be careful not to buy a pair that are so big and baggy that they drown you.

At this time of the year, crop trousers are a particularly good option. They will take you right through the summer too.

Asymmetrical necklines…

Necklines have got really interesting this year.  Look a special eye out for stunning asymmetrical necklines in a bewildering range of cuts. Try a few on to find out which ones suit you the best. Also, bare in mind tan lines if you are buying tops or dresses for your holiday. If you are not careful you could end up like a stripped tiger.

Beautiful lavender clothing…

For the spring, the standout colour is lavender. It appeared on the catwalks late last summer but didn’t really take off. Fortunately, this means that you get a 2nd bite of the cherry. It is a difficult color to match, so the best approach is to dress head to toe in lavender using different tones to add interest. 

But, you can get away with wearing white accessories. White sandals work particularly well with a lavender dress. Plus, you can always pair lavender trousers or skirts with a nice white blouse.

Head to toe neutrals…

If that colour is not for you, go for neutrals instead. The winter whites trend has moved on slightly with stone, light tan and beige items being introduced. This is a classy and stylish look that works for most skin tones and complexions. When choosing which items you buy, think about how you are going to blend them in with other items in your wardrobe. For example, a cream blouse is going to look great with your jeans, much better than a tan one would. 

I hope you enjoyed this women’s fashion post and it had given you all a little inspiration.

Their Own Little Space:Evermeadow House Playhouse

[AD] Being a large family means that it is not easy to find time to yourself.  As adults my husband and I can factor this into our day, but for the children this can be hard to do and I try as much as I can to make sure they all get a little time to themselves, but with the reality of busy lives this isn’t always easy.

The youngest two really enjoy each others company…aside from the arguing! And they are both the ones the older children try to escape from for a bit of peace and quiet!

This is where having a little area in the garden that they can slope off to has been such a great addition for us and we have been able to do this with the help of the lovely people at Big Game Hunters who supply just about anything you could want for oudoor play.

They kindly sent us their Evermeadow Playhouse House to try out and it has been absolutely perfect!

Neither my husband or I own any DIY skills so the thought of errecting a playhouse sent my husband packing and me grabbing the phone to enlist the help of my poor Dad.  I actually didn’t need to panic though as one big box arrived full with our playhouse and instructions that did exaclly what it said on the tin(well box).

The panels have been made to simply slot together and with each pannel being numbered this was an easy task. The screw holes were in place and with the help of a power screwdriver the house was errect within under an hour. Even the windows were already in place so it really was a super easy build.

The house comes in its origianal state wood wise which allows you free reign on the colour you would like it. I was expecting the boys so go for something bold but they surprising they wanted to leave it natural so I just gave it a few coats of wood preserver to protect it from the weather.

The house is suitable for ages 18mths to eight years and has plenty of room for my youngest two to play inside together with their toys.

We have plans to get some cute plant pots outside, a doormat and some big cushions to make it a little cosier inside so keep an eye out over on Instagram for all our updates!

Room On The Broom – A Magical Journey At Chessington World Of Adventures

[Press Event] For a long time now the most loved ride at Chessington World Of Adventures for us has been the Gruffalo River Ride. The familiar characters from the Julia Donaldson classic has been bought to life and even the cynical teens of the family love to ride on the former ‘Bubble Works’ which we never thought could be replaced.

Fast forward a few years and I was over the moon to learn that another Julia Donaldson classic – Room On The Broom was going to be brought to life again and we would be one of the lucky few to see it first.

As always I was as excited as the kids as we set off to Chessington World Of Adventures. It was a pretty early start and we were over the moon to be greeted with a Room On The Broom themed breakfast of wand shaped fruit skewers, star shaped biscuits and mini caldron of sweets(bring on the sugar rush!).

Full up and eager to get to the ride we made our way over to the old Hocus Pocus Hall which was now home to the brand new Room On The Broom – A Magical Journey.

As we entered the familiar large doors we soon realised it had, had a real transformation and was now a library that was home to a bubbling witches caldron. We even got to see Julia Donaldson herself before we entered!

From the start I could tell this was going to be a very interactive experience which is always a hit with the boys.

A stormy wind gust in, blowing away the witches treasured possessions and from there we were sent on a mission to try and find them.

We weaved through woods and we’re challenged to release her hat from the trees, search through haystacks to find her bow and bash the fireflies to reclaim her wand; not forgetting to dodge the dragon who was looking out for a diner of ‘Witch and Chips’.

The boys were pleased to see that a couple of the original features of the house still remain and I will league it down to you to visit and find out for yourselves.

As well as this amazing new attraction there has been two new themed rooms added to the Safari Hotel they would make for an amazing addition to any trip.

This really is a must for all those Julia Donaldson fans out there and had made the perfect partner to the Gruffalo River Ride.

Our February…

Well February has been a pretty funny one weather wise hasn’t it. We spent the beginning of the month with everything crossed that the snow flurries were going to settle and give us a couple of ‘snow days’ and then the end of the month stripping back to T-shirts and eating ice cream in the park.

The beginning of the month was actually a cause for celebration in our house as we celebrated granddaughter number two’s imminent arrival with a baby shower for Alice. I haven’t quite got my head around being a nanny to Isla yet and we already have another one on the way to add to the madness of the family.

We also spend a good few hours in the garden getting it ready for the warmer weather. The boys have been really lucky to have a new playhouse, slide and sandpit and we can’t wait to find the perfect paddling pool to make us completely summer ready!

It’s not to often that I socialise in the evenings anymore and I decided this new year that I was going to stop being such a misery and get out with my friends more.

I had a lovely evening with the mums from Oscar’s class. Ate to much a drank more than I should which made for an all round great evening.

Getting back into my fitness has been a great success this month thanks to Jemma’s Heath Hub. Jemma and I had found each other though the wonderful world of Instagram and she asked me to trial her online fitness program which had seen me out of bed super early three times a week to take part in an online exercise session with a whole load of other likeminded women. Go and check her out if you are looking to get back into fitness and want something to do in your own home.

My husband is the romantic one in our relationship and my lack of romantic is something that really gets to him. So this Valentine’s Day we both took a few hours out of our day to grab some lunch and randomly walk around a local museum…not really his idea of a good day out!

One of my first real jobs was working in the food hall at Marks and Spencer. I still have fond memories of this and they were an amazing company to work for. So fast forward a good few years my new job has landed me back at Marks and Spencer…but behind the scenes at head office.

It really is moments like this that make me realise all the hours I put in are most definitely worth it and it was so amazing to be behind the scenes of a place that is so close to my heart.

The boys were gifted scooters from the wonderful Micro Scooters this month and they literally haven’t got off them since. They have always been my first choice for scooters as they are so easy to use and look amazing. They came with use on a trip to the park the other day where we all enjoyed our first ice cream of the year.

We get to explore many parts of London with my job but Battersea is someone I don’t I have ever been and the children certainly haven’t. We had a more than pleasant surprise when we went along to the power station during half term and got to witness what an amazing job they are doing there.

They have some great shops and restaurants and lots of bits and pieces to keep the children occupied along the waterfront. We were actually there to try out a class at the über cool Boom Cycle whist the kids were kept occupied at the lovely ladies from Kids Table. It is definitely one to put on your list.

We actually did a lot of eating in town this half term with a trip to Yo Sushi and Las Iguanas who both offer great deals during the school holidays so keep this in mind for Easter.

Half term was actually a pretty packed one for us and aside from duties of dog sitting at mum and dads we got to enjoy some great events, including a trip to Neville’s in Belgravia for the launch of the new range of hair care from Child’s Farm.

The boys thought they were super models and spent the morning requesting exactly how they wanted their hair styled whilst me and Izzy were treated to some braids and of course a bit of glitter.

The end of month saw an event just for me which is always a welcome change and I attended the launch of the Emma Willis Collection from Next.

It was an amazing evening where I got to see the whole range which was a stylish and gorgeous as Emma herself.

I spent the evening catching up with friends, drinking way to much Prosecco and fan girling Emma for most of the night!

A Whole New Way To Shower

[AD] When it comes to designing a bathroom it can be a bit of a minefield with so many different options to chose room.

Shall we have vanity unit or shelving? shall we get roll top bath or just a shower unit? shall we tile the whole room or add paper?

The list can go on and on but ultimately what you need is something that is going to suit the whole family and everyone’s needs and I know for us we couldn’t be without a shower.

For us the speed and efficiency you get from having a shower is something we definitely need as having a large family utilising our time well is an absolute must; and this is certainly one way to save a lot of time in the morning when there are so many of us trying to get ready and leave the house.

A shower is also way more energy efficient than a bath. It has actually been calculated that a 10 mins shower only uses 25 gallons of water compared to the 70 it takes to fill a bath, making it is better for the environment and kinder on your pocket which are two things that we think about a lot in our home.

My eldest son is lucky enough to have an en-suite in his room and this is the perfect place to have a shower but due to the limited space a wet room would actually be something that for us would probably work a lot better than the usual shower unit for many reasons:

Space Saving – Wet rooms optimise the use of space in bathroom by taking out the need for bulky shower trays and doors and making way for a free flow area which creates a lot more space.

Having to make the entire space waterproof also means you are less likely to get any leaks like you could with a traditional shower unit.

Interior Heaven – For me the sleek design you can get with a wet room is a big pull for me. Floor to ceiling tiles that fill the entire area creates a modern, seamless look that won’t date easily. You can keep the design as simple as you want with minimal accessories and all of those much needed products stored away in cabinets to keep it clutter free, giving you a more relaxing experience.

Squeaky Clean – One of my pet hates is cleaning the shower. Having to try and squeeze round tight corners to get in and give it a good clean is a real pain and something you avoid with a wet room. Plus you are removing the need for grout which we all know if a nightmare for breeding mildew which is a nightmare to get off!

Easy Access – This one for us is a real bonus when it comes to showering the little ones. They always opt for a bath as a shower unit makes them feel claustrophobic and uneasy when the shower door had to be closed shut. This problem is taken away with a wet room and the openness is far more appealing to little ones.

Little Tikes First Slide:Review

[AD] I don’t think there is a child on the planet that doesn’t enjoy playing on a slide and as well as being great fun there are a whole host of reasons why it is a fantastic piece of equipment for your child.

Helps With Balance And Coordination – Having to navigate the steps, positioning themselves at the top and finally letting themselves go down the slide all help to build their balance and coordination skills.

Grow Their Spacial Awareness – Not getting to close to the person in front and waiting until their path is clear when using a slide is a great way to get children to become aware of the space around them and how to use it.

Building Their Confidence – For some climbing those first steps and letting themselves go down the slide can be a little daunting so it is a great way to build their confidence.

Slides have always been the first choice for all my children when it comes to play equipment and being able to have a slide that is so versatile it can be used inside and outside the home is a real winner and exactly what you get with the Little Tikes First Slide. Its easy to assemble, rigid plastic is the perfect slide for children from 18 months to 5 years.

We put the slide together in a matter of minutes and due to the ease of this the slide can be moved around and stored away without any problems at all. Oscar loves being outside but not on his own, so for those times when he wants to play with the slide and I’ve got stuff to do it comes into the dining room and he can pay away whist I get on.

Little Tikes will always have our hearts as their toys are always faultless and we have found exactly the same with this slide.

Vertbaudet:Clothing, Homeware And So Much More

[AD] I first started shopping with Vertbaudet over twenty years ago now when I had my first. I loved that they offered something a little different to your run of the mill catalogues at the time and their clean and simple lines made for a range of childrens clothes that reflected their chic french background.

For some reason over the years they had fallen from my radar a little and when I was asked to work with then at the beginning of the year I was astounded at just how much they now offer and how the brand has grown into something pretty amazing.

They offer a huge range of clothing from babies to teens and even have a range of maternity and nursing wear which is something that is always tricky to find.

Not only can you find some great pieces for the little ones wardrobes but you can also get some gorgeous homeware pieces for their rooms that are as individual and beautiful as their clothing plus a fabulous range of indoor and outdoor toys.

The boys had great fun scrolling through their easy to use website and being the little fashionistas that they are selected a pair of skinny jeans each that is always their go to style. Their jeans were a brilliant fit, had plenty of stretch so that playtime wasn’t restricted and had plenty of length which is something I tend to find a problem when buying childrens jeans.

Giving the boys somewhat of a free rein  when it came to choosing an outfit can sometimes be a little dangerous and their faces immediately lit up when they saw some character sweatshirts. They are normally something I steer clear of but the retro design of the Mickey Mouse sweatshirt and the cool faded fabric on the Star Wars jumper was fabulous and they were definitely winners with all of us.

For me footwear is a tricky one to order online for children as getting a good for for them is so important. I needn’t have worried though as the suede boots that arrived for the boys were a wonderfully soft leather with good support for their feet and looked super stylish too.

All kitted out the boys were then ready to play with their new toy. I’m a sucker for wooden toys and their delightful wooden garage didn’t disappoint. It was easy to put together, looks amazing and has been one of the boys favourite toys.

I am yet to see what they have to offer by the way of homeware but it won’t be long as I already have a long wish list ready and waiting.

Our January…

Last year I started a series called “Celebrating The Small Things” were every week I would do a round up of all the little things I had to be thankful for such as one of the children learning to tie there shoes or the excitement of seeing the first flowers of spring.

Being the unorganised and scatty person that I am, committing to getting this done every week all got to much but I still wanted to keep something going this year so I’ve switched things up about with a round up style post of our month and I hope you like what you see.

We kicked the year off in a pretty amazing way with a visit to Center Parcs. This is by far one of our favourite places to get away too but the price isn’t always to attractive. We managed to get a great deal and had a few days to relax, try out some new activities, swim to our hearts content and eat our body weight in pancakes.

After a pretty hectic Christmas and a trip away we decided the rest of the holiday should be dedicated to relaxing, recouping and enjoying our new home. I am always on the look out for the next thing to do and after a discussion with the kids we decided this year would be the year to take things at a slower pace and enjoy things like movies nights and playing board games instead of always being out chasing a new adventure.

I’m truth if was Frankie that really made me feel terrible about the amount of time we spend out as he informed me he never gets a chance to just go to the park and ride his bike as I’ve always planned something. I know you mum guilt hits you all the time but I really felt terrible at the fact I must have been putting so much pressure on them.

It was Frankie’s birthday at the beginning of the month and we celebrated him turning seven with a his first day back a school which didn’t go down to well and a steak dinner. Next year it’s my mission to not let the December and January birthdays go so unnoticed.

I jumped on the keep fit bandwagon with the majority of people and got myself back into David Lloyd more regularly again. The weight had certainly piled on again over Christmas and I was eager to hit those goals again this year.

After a bit of a nightmare with going backwards and forwards to hospital and orthodontist visits, both Izzy and Archie are finally on their way to getting perfect teeth after having their braces fitted.

I’m sure most of you feel the same and get pretty bored of the same old meals everyday. I was as bored of cooking them as the kids were of eating them so I dusted off the cookbooks and tried some things I’ve never had before. All I can say is move over Wagamama as I can now cook a pretty mean katsu curry!

I’ve been adding a few pieces to the house to put our own stamp on it, but with things being a little tight I have been trying to my good friends EBay and the bargain corner at IKEA and found some great pieces. It always makes me feel happier to know I’ve got a bargain.

We rounded the month off with our first event of the year and it was a good one to say the least. We headed to Islington for the release of How To Train Your Dragon. Not only was it an amazing movie they you all need to see but the interactive event was amazing and the boys literally felt like they had been transporting the Isle Of Berk.

Ben And Holly’s Magic Kingdom Live On Stage:Giveaway

I have always been a big believer in introducing the children to the wonders of the stage from an early age. There is nothing quite like a live performance and all of mine have and still do thoroughly enjoy a trip to the theatre.

A good way to introduce them is with characters that they are already familiar with and for mine Peppa Pig was always a favourite. The makers of Peppa Pig Live have now brought the CBeebies favourite – Ben And Holly’s Little Kingdom to life and I have a feeling this is going to be just as good.

The young fairy princess Holly is still tentatively learning to fly and master her magic skills while her best friend Ben the elf spends his days running around with his good pal Gaston the ladybird. The show allows you to become immersed in their Little Kingdom and enjoy lots of fun, games and laughter along the way.

If this sounds like something your little ones would enjoy then I have got a family ticket to give away for Saturday 2nd February at 1pm at the Orchard Theatre, Dartford. Please enter below and the simmer will be announced on Friday 1st February.

Good Luck!

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