A picture is worth a thousand words,

but what is the best way to print it?

If you thought this article was going to be full of beautiful pictures then you are wrong. It’s about the best and cheapest way to print your pictures.

 

Printing out pictures

In this digital age, most of us take photos almost everyday. However, they are often left in the digital world. My wife and I have recently decided that we want to print off more pictures of our daughters as they are growing up. We just needed to decide what the best way of doing that is.

 

Online printing companies

We have already signed up for various online photo printing sites that offer free prints to new customers. Even after you add the postage it works out very cheaply.

Currently I can find the following offers.

  • Snapfish: 20 free prints for new accounts
  • Truprint: 40 free prints for new accounts
  • Photobox: 60 free prints for new accounts
  • Jessops: 50 free prints for new accounts

After you have used the free print offers if you want to carry on using online printing companies then it is always worth checking who has the current best price as they often have offers. All examples used are for standard 6″ by 4″ prints.

For example, today Photobox  has a price of 12p per print if you buy up to 200 with the lowest price of 5p per print if you buy more than 500. However, they have a current deal where if you buy 50 standard size prints you get 100 free. So you pay 50 x £0.12 =£6, but get 150 prints which works out at 4p per photo.

The standard prices on Truprint are the same. However, they do not have the 100 prints free promotion so if you order today the price on Truprint would be three times higher than Photobox. Tomorrow or next week it could be a different story though.

Jessops currently has a higher base price at 15p per print for up to 100 photos and then 10p a print up to 500 photos. However, you do have the advantage that you can pick the photos up in store so you don’t need to pay a delivery charge.

Printing at home

printer

The other option we looked at is to print pictures at home. We went to John Lewis to look at printers and they recommended a HP Envy 4500 printer as you can use a new subscription service called instant ink. With this service you basically pay a monthly fee to print out a certain amount of pages. When the ink cartridge is about to run out you get sent a new one in the post. The idea being that you never run out of ink. The good news is that the included pages can be either standard word documents or high quality photos, whichever you choose the cost is the same. We went for the basic package which means we pay £1.99 a month and can print 50 pages a month.

Those doing some calculations might say, hang on that works out at 4p a print and you have to buy the printer and paper as well. However the good thing with this is that you can fit four photos on one A4 page. This means that the ink costs are 1p a print.

Photo Paper is not as expensive as it used to be. You can buy 100 sheets of HP 200g/m2 Photo paper on Amazon for just under £10. So 50 sheets would cost £5 added to the printing costs this means that it’s 3.5p per photo. You could get it even cheaper if you lowered the quality of the paper.

The printer we chose is the HP Envy 4500 and cost around £45. The print quality is very good although slow and we have been happy with our purchase so far.

So what’s the best option

There are advantages and disadvantages with each option.

Advantages of printing online

  • Quality is usually better than printing at home.
  • With deals it can work out cheaply as well.

Disadvantages of printing online

  • It can take time to find the best deals as the base prices are pretty high compared to printing at home.
  • It can take a while for the prints to arrive.
  • You probably have to pay delivery charges.
  • It can take a long time to upload the photos to the website.

Advantages of printing at home

  •  It usually works out cheaper
  • It’s pretty instantaneous and you can print something off when you like.
  • You don’t have to wait till you have 200 photos and then sit there for hours uploading the best ones to the online printing companies.

Disadvantages of printing at home

  • You only have a set amount of prints per month and are charged extra for exceeding those pages. However you are able to roll a certain amount of pages over to the next month.

Conclusion

Having weighed up all the advantages and disadvantages I think that we will mainly use our own printer for general photo printing. However, we will keep an eye on deals at the online printing companies and make use of those as they arise. Also, whenever we need to print for a special occasion, I think we will stick to the professionals.

 

Could you be getting Calpol, Sudocrem and Ibuprofen for free?

If you live in certain parts of the country and don’t pay prescription charges(i.e. during and after pregnancy, children up to 16, the over 60’s) you could be getting free over-the-counter medicines, i.e. medicines that you don’t need a prescription for. It’s called the minor ailment scheme.

Minor Ailment Scheme

The minor ailment scheme is basically a resource that lets you get over the counter medicines without a prescription from participating pharmacies. The reasoning behind the scheme is that minor conditions often don’t require a GP visit. However people attend the GP’s just to try and get a prescription and access to the free medicines. This takes up a lot of the GP’s time and that is why the scheme was brought in.

With this scheme the pharmacist can recommend a medicine and it can be given to you for free. They usually report back to your GP what has been given out so it does stay on your medical record.

The bad news

It is not available in every area of the country. I believe it’s available in the whole of Scotland and Northern Ireland, but in England and Wales it’s dependent on the local Primary Care Trust(PCT). However, there are calls to bring this in nationally as research by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society suggests it could save the NHS £1 billion a year.

As such, more and more PCT’s are bringing this scheme in. Unfortunately, I cannot find an easy way of finding out in which areas the scheme is running. Infact when we recently went to our GP surgery to ask about it, they knew nothing about the scheme. However, 10 miles down the road in Milton Keynes the PCT is running the scheme.

How to find out if it’s available in your area

You can try and contact your GP and find out, but it might be difficult to get through to them. I was hoping Boots would have it on their website, but although they do mention the service it doesn’t show up as a service when using the store locator. Thankfully Rowlands Pharmacy do list the minor ailment service on their website. All you need to do is use their store locator and if the local stores offer a minor ailment service then it is eligible in your area. There is one caveat to this. As far as I understand it, the service is linked to the area in which you are registered with your GP. As such, if I use the Rowlands service it says my local one doesn’t offer the service, but Milton Keynes which is on the list does. As I understand it I will not be able to go to the Milton Keynes pharmacy and use the scheme.

I hope this helps you

I hope this article will be helpful to some of you as this scheme does not seem to be very well advertised and I know we have spent a lot of money on Calpol, Ibuprofen and the like, when in actual fact this could have been free.

The Dad Network

How to raise bilingual children?

How to raise bilingual children is a question I really struggle with. I myself am bilingual having moved to England from Holland when I was a child. I attended primary school in England and secondary school in Holland, before coming to England to attend university. I have lived in England ever since.

 

I really would like to give my children the best start in life and being raised bilingually could really help in that.

My issues with raising my children bilingually:

  • My wife doesn’t speak Dutch: Although she has expressed an interest in learning it’s not an easy language and finding the time to teach her is very difficult. This also raises another issue. If I do teach my children Dutch they could speak it in front of my wife and she wouldn’t know what they were saying. I imagine two young children could get very mischievous with that.
  • Dutch isn’t the best second language to have: It’s not a world language like Spanish, Mandarin or even German and French. Although a second language can be a big advantage I’m just not sure how much of an advantage Dutch would be. We don’t have that many friends and family there and those that we do have speak good english.
  • My Dutch isn’t the best anymore: Although I was born in Holland and have been to school there I have lived in England so long now that my dutch isn’t that great anymore. I sometimes struggle to remember words and I definitely feel english is my mother tongue now. Therefore it doesn’t feel natural to me to be speaking Dutch and it is why I often forgot to speak it in front of my children.
  • Finding the time: We attend toddler groups or classes most days usually with friend and the conversations we have there are naturally in English.

 

I would still like to raise bilingual children

Despite all the issues mentioned above I would ideally want to raise bilingual children and teach my daughters Dutch. Below are some potential ideas

  • Read more Dutch books to my daughters, especially at bedtime.
  • Try and have dedicated Dutch times/days where I can teach both my daughters and my wife Dutch.
  • Let them watch some Dutch childrens programmes on youtube.

I would really appreciate any other ideas that anyone has. Being bilingual is a life skill and it would be a shame not to pass that on to my daughters.

The importance of routine

I’ve recently noticed how important a certain amount of routine is to our daughter. I’m not talking about a regimented day to day routine that we have, but about activities that she’s been missing.

There have been two recent incidents, which has made part of me feel that we have neglected her needs. However I know this is very irrational as what she’s been missing has been replaced by other interests and activities.

The local music group Our daughter had been going to a local music group pretty much every Monday for well over a year. However in the recent run up to christmas we started attending a different toddler group  as her friends go there a lot. She also really enjoys this group. However last week we took her back to the music group and she wasn’t her normal bouncy self. Don’t get me wrong she still really enjoyed it, but she wouldn’t go to the front and join in as she used to do. She was just a bit wary and shy.

We went back this week and she was a little bit better and did go to the front, but only when holding mummy’s hand. In a way it seems that we have to slowly rebuild the confidence that she had built up by attending regularly. I’m sure if we keep going she’ll be back to her normal bubbly self in no time. The dilemma we now have is can we keep her confidence up in both the music group and the toddler group by rotating them regularly as it would be a shame to completely drop one for the other as both are good for different reasons.

Swimming

The second incident is when we took her swimming recently. Before her sister was born we used to go swimming nearly every week and she loved it. She used to enjoy sitting on the side and jumping/diving into the water. The birth of her sister, subsequent tiredness, illnesses and the christmas break have meant that we hadn’t been swimming for nearly six months. We were keen to get her and her sister back in the pool. For her sister it was a first and she seemed to really enjoy it. Whilst our eldest did seem to enjoy herself and in the end didn’t want to get out it seemed all she wanted to do was walk around in the toddler pool. She wasn’t interested in going in the big pool or along the lazy river. Things that she really enjoyed when she last went.

We are now very keen to get her in as regular routine of going swimming as we want to give her lessons soon. First we have to rebuild her confidence for going in the water. As it would be a shame if when we paid for lessons she didn’t want to get in.

Lesson learnt

What these two experiences have made me realise is that children’s memories don’t seem to be as long. Although she did remember both the music group  and the swimming she didn’t remember what she used to like about them. She didn’t have the confidence to do things she was confident in before.

What I’ve learnt from these two incidents is that we need to do the activities my daughters enjoy regularly so they can continue to have enjoyment out of it. After all these activities aren’t cheap so it’s important that when we spend that money our daughters enjoy it to their utmost.

17 easy ways to slash your grocery bills.

Being a parent usually means the income you are accustomed to suddenly changes drastically. Either one of the parents stays at home to look after the children or both parents work having to pay large nursery or child minding fees. Unless you are lucky enough to have an extended family member or friend look after the children at no cost.

It is therefore often necessary to look after the pennies once a baby arrives. Below I have listed a few ways in which you can try and cut your grocery bills.

  • Lidl half price weekend offers: A lot of news reports have highlighted the rise of the discount chains Lidl and Aldi. They are definitely a place where you can save on your weekly shopping. However did you know that Lidl also do half price weekly offers where they have three or four products half price. They are often really good deals. This weekend for example they have a 200g bar of premium chocolate for 49p, Kiwis for 12p and 100g of Grano Pandano cheese for 59p. Now these deals might not be your cup of tea, but it is always worth checking out what the weekend offers are going to be just in case they’re something you buy on a regular basis. You can find the deals on the Lidl Website or you can download their app.
  • Aldi super six: Again just like Lidl, Aldi is a discounter where you can save on your weekly shopping compared to the bigger supermarkets. However you have to remember that it is pretty much all own brand food. Whilst a lot of it is just as or nearly as good as branded food, other things in my opinion aren’t so it would be trial and error to see which staples you can replace. They do however have a weekly fruit and veg offer called super 6. This is where they offer 6 fruits and/or vegetables at great prices. This week for example the best deal they have is blueberries at 69p for 125g(£5.52 per kg), the current cheapest per kg price for fresh blueberries at Tesco is £12 per kg. You can find the Super six deals on the Aldi website or with their app.
  • Freezer fruits and vegetables: That lead me nicely on to my next point. The cost and convenience of freezer fruits and vegetables. Not only are they often much cheaper, there is less chance of wastage. In the Aldi section above, I mentioned that the cheapest fresh blueberries at Tesco worked out at £12 per kg. Well the cheapest frozen blueberries at Tesco are £5.72per kg, which is less than half price. Other examples are Broccoli(fresh £1.40 per kg/frozen £0.99 per kg), Green Beans(fresh £4.42 per kg/frozen £1.12 per kg) and sprouts(fresh £2 per kg and frozen £1 per kg). Of course there are seasonal variations in the cost of fresh vegetables so the difference will change as well. Additionally they will often save peeling and preparation time.
  • Approved food: Approved food is an online retailer of goods that are often near their best before date or which have just passed it. The majority of the time there is absolutely no difference in taste if an item is slightly over it’s best before date. The savings that you can make can be big, although you do have to buy a reasonable amount due to the delivery fee. The delivery charge is based on weight, up to 25kg is £5.99 so it is wise to mainly go for lighter purchases. Stock availability changes regularly and they also do special daily deals so every time you go on it they can be different. For example, as I’m writing this, they have; Old El Paso Creamy Poblano Pepper Casserole Recipe Mix 40g at 5 for £1 (best before 20th Feb). the rrp is £1.30 each so that is a saving of over 80%. They also have 5 x Hellmans extra hot 450g tomato ketchup best before 20th of Dec 2014 for £1, compared to an rrp of £1.29 each. Again this is a saving of over 80%.
  • Go vegetarian: I myself am an avid meat eater, but it is a lot more expensive. As we’re on a budget we are trying to have two to three vegetarian meals a week. For example this could be a vegetarian stir fry, pasta dish or curry. This does make a big difference in the amount we spend and the dishes we make are still really tasty.
  • Use cheaper cuts of meat: On the days that we do eat meat we try and go for the cheaper cuts. These are often cuts that need to be cooked longer at a low heat. This is perfect for stews and casseroles in the winter. A slow cooker is great for this as you put the food on in the morning and it’s ready for dinner time. Using a slow cooker for eight hours is also cheaper to run than an electric oven for one hour.
  • Discount Stores: I’m thinking of the likes of B&M, HomeBargains, Poundstretcher, etc. These places often have really good deals and a bit like Approved Food it sort of depends what they’ve been able to buy in bulk, for whatever reason. It could be cheap chocolate after Valentine’s Day, sweets after Halloween or sometimes it’s just nearing the best before date. I have had some great bargains from these kinds of shops before, however I would not make a special trip, but if you’re passing one it’s worth just popping in and checking out what they’ve got on the day.
  • Buy cheaper products: What I mean by this is you should try out a lower priced alternative to what you normally buy. If you buy branded products try a supermarket own brand. If you buy a standard supermarket brand, try the value range. Sometimes you’ll find that the cheaper alternative tastes just as good, other times you’ll never want to buy the cheaper alternative again. However if you can substitute just a part of your annual spend to a cheaper alternative it could mean big savings in the long run.
  • Compare supermarket prices: Mysupermarket is a website whereby you can input a basket of goods and it will tell you what the cheapest supermarket is for that basket. When you are in need of just one specific item do you just go to your normal supermarket or do you walk into every supermarket to see if it’s on offer? With Supermarket Special Offers you just type in what you are looking for and they will let you know which supermarkets have got it on sale. So if you’re like us and there are 3 or 4 different supermarket brands with a similar journey time you can go to the one that has the offer on that specific item.
  • Look for reduced items: Most supermarkets have a reduced section. This usually consists of food that has a sell by or use by date of the day you buy it. It can be a good way of getting a discount. With luck it will be something you were going to buy and use that day anyway. Otherwise you could change your meal plan for that day. In the case of most fruits and vegetables they are often fine even after the sell by date. However with meat and fish I would take great care and use it on the same day or freeze it. In addition some supermarkets have a reduced section for long shelf life goods. Perhaps some cans that have been damaged, or they are products that they are not going to stock anymore. In these cases you can pick up items you need at a cheaper price.
  • Coupons: Coupons can also be a good way of reducing your bills especially if they are on things you would buy anyway. Good places to find coupons are inside free supermarket magazines or on a product for when you buy the product again. I recall when Nando’s had a £1 off the next purchase and Tesco had them at half price so they cost £1. In effect you kept getting a bottle free every time you bought one. You can also get coupons by joining online clubs such as the Cow and Gate Club, Pampers and Heinz. There is also a phenomenon called extreme couponing where you can find lots of coupons to use. Should you have the time and patience then you might want to check out these blogs extreme couponing  and http://www.ukcouponing.co.uk/.
  • Online initial deals: Most supermarkets give you a good discount code when you place the first online order with them. So you could save a bit of money by doing this with a few of them. I have written an earlier blog post about that here.
  • Receipt photography: This one might seem a bit strange at first but cashback sites Topcashback and Quidco both offer a service whereby you get cash back on your shopping if you buy certain products. You just need to send them a photo of the receipt as proof. At Topcashback it is called Snap and Save and current offers include 20p cashback when you buy Hovis soft white bread, 40p of Nutella and 50p of Special K. At Quidco the offering is called Click Snap and currently it includes 25p off any Aldi or Lidl shop, 15p cashback when you buy Cadbury’s fingers and 20p off Onken yoghurt. If you’re signed up to either of these services, it’s always worth signing up to at least one of them for cash back on most of your online shopping. It’s then worth checking even after you’ve been to the shops. You never know you might have bought something for which you can get some cash back just by submitting a photo of the receipt.
  • Packed lunches: Making packed lunches is another good way of saving money. Whenever we go out with the children, we always make sure to take a lunch with us as this is so much cheaper than eating out or even buying a sandwich. Someone who spends just £3 a day on a packed lunch will, if they buy it five days a week for 48 weeks, spend £720 just on their lunch. Home made lunches will come in at just a fraction of this.
  • Use freezer when stuff is cheap: When there are good deals on freezable food then it is always worth buying some extra and freezing it. For example, near Easter time Asda were doing leg of lamb for under £5 a kg. This was very good value so we bought a few to freeze for special occasions. You just need to have some discipline and remember what you have frozen and use it in a first in first out system so you don’t end up with food that has been sitting in your freezer for years.
  • Cook in bulk: Another good thing to do is to cook in bulk and then have the same meal a few times in the week or again freeze some of it. Not only can this save money it can also save a lot of time. It’s a lot quicker to cook a double batch of one meal than to cook two separate meals.
  • Go to the local market: This is one that I haven’t really tried myself yet, but a lot of people say that the food at local markets is a lot cheaper than in the big supermarkets. It is definitely something that I will try and check out for myself.

 

Conclusion:

Since we’ve had our daughters it has been imperative that we try and keep our outgoings down as much as possible. We have used each of the above ways to trim our grocery spending.  I understand that following each of these ideas might be a bit extreme, but hopefully you’ve discovered one or two new ideas that will help you reduce your outgoings somewhat. I would also love to hear any other money saving ideas that you might have.

The Dad Network
Mums' Days

My daughters have a sixth sense

My daughters seem to have a sixth sense for waking up and/or causing mischief at exactly the wrong time.

At Night

I can pretty much guarantee that every night when I try to sleep one or the other will wake up and cry. Not often enough for me to get up, but enough to think that they must sense that I’m wanting to go to sleep.

The worst nights are the ones where they gang up on you. One will be up with wind till two in the morning and once they’re finally settled the other will wake up ten minutes later. It’s amazing how often this seems to happen.

During the day

There are so many times when they are no trouble all day long and just when you need them to be quiet for five minutes as you’re on the phone or cooking they’ll be crying or throwing a tantrum. It’s not necessarily that they’re not getting attention at that point as my eldest will happily play on her own for quite a while and my youngest is often asleep or happy playing on her piano gym. It’s just that they sense what is the worst time for you to draw attention to themselves and then they do it.

Please tell me this phenomenon isn’t restricted to just my household.