I had always heard of people in the U.S. spending considerable hours snipping money-saving coupons from magazines and newspapers and taking them along to supermarkets to save vast amounts of dollars on their shopping. Couponing is big in the United States. Is it possible to achieve the same effects here in Britain? Not to the same extent, no, but there are still huge amounts of offers to be had if you  know where to look for them.

The first time I handed over a voucher for a discount in a restaurant, I was a little embarrassed to say the least. I mean, paying at the supermarket and passing the checkout assistant vouchers which the supermarket had themselves sent me in the post seemed perfectly reasonable. It would be silly, in fact, to pass up on such an opportunity.

The thing is, that people are used to it these days. When I looked around, I realised that most people are doing it. Chains of restaurants are competing to get people in through the doors, as are supermarkets and brands who are experiencing the pressure of the economic situation and strong competition. There is nothing to lose by using a few coupons yourself to save a few pounds and certainly nothing to be embarrassed about. Frankly I would be more embarrassed if I knew someone had made a huge saving on something, whereas I had paid full price!

These are my top-tips for coupons, vouchers and other money-off.

  • Voucher websites such as Vouchercodes.co.uk provide a selection of savings on a huge number of stores and restaurants. Sometimes it points you towards companies who are currently promoting, sometimes it will provide you with a discount code to either type in at the online checkout or pass on to your waiter in a restaurant.
  • supersavvyme.co.uk is a site by Proctor and Gamble, providing money-off coupons for their products. You can download and print up to 30 coupons in a month.
  • Your mobile phone company probably provides promotions too. O2 for example has the ‘Priority Moments‘. Using the website or phone app, it will give you offers in the vicinity for shops and restaurants. If you have an Orange mobile, you can get ‘Orange Wednesdays‘, 2 for 1 on cinema tickets and pizza at Pizza Express on Wednesdays . Just text FILM to 241.
  • Freestuff.co.uk is another good site for printable vouchers for supermarket shopping, days out and restaurants.
  • If you have a Facebook account, it is worth following pages like Extreme Couponing UK, set up by coupon fans to let others know about deals. Followers often share offers and vouchers they have found too.
  • When you visit the supermarket, make sure you pick up their free magazines, as these often have money-off coupons in them.
  • Sign up for a Tesco Clubcard if you don’t have one already. As well as earning points on your shopping which you can convert to cash in store or other vouchers, 4 times a year you will also be sent vouchers which are usually tailored to your shopping history, so you are likely to receive offers on items you usually buy.
  • Similarly, make sure you sign up for any rewards cards. I regularly receive free items by paying with my Nectar Card or Boots Advantage Card. I have also got a number of free flights by saving points on my Tesco Clubcard and converting them to Avios.
  • Beforeishop.co.uk is another great coupon site.
  • Scout the newspapers, particularly the free ones, as they often contain money off your shopping.

Please feel free to add any other great ideas in the comments section!

 

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On my constant quest, as I am, to be totally free from my full-time job (which, did I mention, I can’t stand?), I am often plagued by those thoughts which challenge what I am doing. What if my new projects fall flat on their faces? Making a living on-line isn’t as trustworthy as a full-time job. Why am I wasting my time? What happens if I quit my job, and a few months later I end up penniless and homeless?

Sometimes its enough to make you give up. I berate myself for being so stupid as to believe that I can make it out there on my own and I just sit there thinking how stupid I have been. What do I do?

I could turn around and go back to my job, thinking that it is all there is and it should be enough for me – after all, it’s enough for everyone else, isn’t it?

I could find myself a new job, with good prospects. It doesn’t have to be the same career – but then I’m not trained in anything else and it’ll be a huge task to re-train…

A year or so ago, I never believed that I could make even a reasonable amount of money on-line. But with the success of ReadyMadePubQuiz.com I proved myself wrong. At the moment it is a great success. Yes, it may not last, but it’s there for now.

So is it a waste of time? In my heart, I really don’t believe so. I really want to make it work. And if I give up, I’ll always regret not trying. So how do I make myself get on with things, when it all seems too much?

1. Take a tiny step.

Just the tiniest step towards your goal or your dream can push you in the right direction. If I pick up my laptop and do something tiny, for example checking for comments on a blog, I find that I actually end up doing a lot more.

2. Take a walk to clear your head.

Fresh air and exercise help to keep us health and positive. You will most likely find that you come back in a totally different frame of mind.

3. Seek inspiration.

I use books and the Internet. Sadly I do have quite a collection of books on positive thinking these days… Sometimes I look for articles that will spur me on. Sometimes I just flick around, looking for ideas to get me thinking.

4. Speak to an inspirational friend.

I don’t know about you, but my different friends are all useful in their own individual ways! Some are great when you need a comforting shoulder, some are good at giving advice. I have one friend who is fantastic at giving me perspective whenever I need it.

5. Tidy.

It may sound silly, but a cluttered work area/room really does make for a cluttered mind. If you want to be productive, make sure everything feels nice about your space. Also, doing a task that doesn’t directly relate to your project, but which is helpful at the same time, can make you feel as if you’re achieving something useful, if you can’t face taking bigger steps or doing the relevant work. It may seem like procrastinating, but I don’t believe that it is. You’ll probably feel so positive and pleased with yourself when you’ve finished that other tasks won’t seem so daunting.

 

 

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One year ago I had what I believed to be a pipe dream of making enough money from my websites that I could give up my teaching job and work full-time as my own boss, choosing my own working hours and being the master of my own destiny.

One year ago, I hoped it could happen, I never thought that it would happen to me.

No, it’s not the blog you are reading that has given me a reasonable income, but my other website project ReadyMadePubQuiz.com.

OK, so I’m not a multi-millionaire and I am still working part-time. But last month I made more money from this website than working 3 days a week as a secondary school teacher with 10 years experience.

How did I do it? I made a list of things I was interested in, things I really enjoyed and had experience in. After that I did some research on the Internet to find out which one of these ideas had the least similar presence on the net and I decided that the pub quiz site was slightly different to what many other sites offered. I built the site, did a great deal of research on SEO and marketing strategies and kept adding quizzes.

It took a lot of research and it was a steep learning curve, but it is now looking to be quite a profitable little business.

What has this taught me? Never give up on your dreams – if you work hard enough they really can come true.

 

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I really do love quotes. Somehow a carefully constructed (or sometimes completely accidental!) handful of words can convey a sentiment so much more efficiently and concisely than a poem or a story. Why use a hundred words when a handful will do?!

On my twitter page I love to pass on inspiring quotes on all topics. Here are a few based on the topic of happiness. Sometimes we all need a little boost from some words of wisdom.

“Happiness is not a station you arrive at, but a manner of travelling” ~ Margaret B. Runbeck.

“Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake” ~ Henry David Thoreau.

“Have a heart that never hardens, a temper that never tires, a touch that never hurts” ~ Charles Dickens.

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us looking at the stars” ~ Oscar Wilde.

“Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart” ~ Confucius.

“If you can dream it, you can do it” ~ Walt Disney.

“A smooth sea never made a skillful mariner” ~ anon.

“It doesn’t matter where you are coming from, all that matters is where you are going” ~ Brian Tracy.

“Life is a big canvas, throw all the paint on it you can” ~ Danny Kaye.

“Make one person happy each day and in forty years you will have made 14,600 human beings happy for a little time at least” ~ Charles Wiley.

“Ask yourself this question: will this matter a year from now?” ~ Richard Carlson.

“What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve” ~ Napoleon Hill.

“Kindness is more important than wisdom, and recognising this is the beginning of wisdom” ~ Theodore Isaac Rubin.

“To climb steep hills requires a slow pace at first” ~ William Shakespeare.

“Courage is like a muscle – we strengthen it with use” ~ Ruth Gordon.

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realise they were the big things” ~ Robert Brault.

“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away” ~ anon.

“The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain!” ~ Dolly Parton.

Please leave me some more suggestions in the comments section!

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My previous post ’10 things to do in the sun’ was, to be honest, full of silliness. I looked at it again the other day and thought how utterly unhelpful it was. There are MILLIONS of things you can do when the sun comes out – mostly for free. And in the UK where, let’s be honest, the sun doesn’t come out very often, I do believe we need to make the most of it. So here is my rather more sensible list of 50 ways to get out and about and do something nice in the sunshine.

  1. Buy a paddling pool for the garden.
  2. Visit your local garden centre and buy seeds, pots and compost and grow your own vegetables.
  3. Take a picnic to the park.
  4. Visit your local outdoor swimming pool.
  5. Take a day trip to the beach.
  6. Take up golf.
  7. Lie and read in the sun.
  8. Go for a bike ride.
  9. Buy a book of local walks and find your way around one (don’t get lost!)
  10. Try frisbee golf.
  11. Play tennis at  a local outdoor court.
  12. Go for a run.
  13. Find outdoor concerts in the area.
  14. Look for local farmers markets.
  15. Take up a water sport.
  16. Visit local places of interest you have never been to.
  17. See what outdoor classes your local sports centre runs.
  18. Go for a random drive – flip a coin at each junction and see where you end up.
  19. Pick berries and make a pie.
  20. Visit your local animal sanctuary.
  21. Wait until elderflowers come out and then make elderflower champagne.
  22. Learn to surf.
  23. Clean your car (functional, but possibly not fun…)
  24. Have a water fight.
  25. Get out your old roller skates.
  26. Investigate areas nearby you have never been to before.
  27. Go to a theme park.
  28. Go for a hike in the woods.
  29. Walk the dog or someone else’s dog!
  30. Go camping.
  31. Go horse riding.
  32. Go to the zoo.
  33. Take your camera out and look for beautiful pictures to take.
  34. Visit a sporting event.
  35. Look out for local fairs and fetes.
  36. Go on a boat trip.
  37. Visit a local nature reserve.
  38. Take up climbing.
  39. Sit outside a pub, have a drink and watch the world go by.
  40. Put out a table and play chess/cards.
  41. Have a garden party.
  42. Have a garden cocktail party.
  43. Go to the horse races.
  44. Find some open-air theatre or street performers to watch.
  45. Visit random towns in the area you wouldn’t normally go to.
  46. Get up early in the morning to watch the sun rise.
  47. Go to a music festival.
  48. Fly a kite (ok, so wind also required here…)
  49. Make home-made ice cream.
  50. Play frisbee.

I’m sure you can think of a million other things to do, but at least this list is a start. Maybe something in it will prompt some other thoughts. Any other ideas gratefully welcomed in the comments section. Have a lovely sunny day :-)

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