Honest Value for those who live more rurally

But is it actually stocked and accessible at Co Op?

I have a bit of a love hate relationship with co op. It is the only choice in my village & neighbouring town so I spend an excessive amount of money there (I don’t drive, I moved from London where driving wasn’t a big deal to Scotland where it is and haven’t had the money since to learn).

The £5 deals look great on paper but the only time one was ever in stock for me it turned out it actually wasn’t, they had just put something else on the shelf and they had to call the manager and it was super embarrassing. I often go to the co op in the next town as that is where the doctors, chemist, dentist etc is and same issue there basically.

I was hyped this week when I saw the Feed your Family for £20 a week lady was working with co op, and immediately decided to try the shopping list and make the most of her £5 off a £20 spend voucher. But had an instant reality check when I saw that not only were all the £5 deals out of stock in both my Co Op’s again, but it would be a real struggle to actually shop for this meal plan.

  • Honest Value Whole Chicken – £2.92 – Not Stocked – Alt was £5 for 1.5kg
  • Potatoes – £2.00
  • Swede – £0.85
  • Carrots – £0.52
  • Spring Onions – OOS (Out of stock) no alternative
  • Tomatoes – OOS no alternative
  • 12 Yorkshire Puddings £1.30 – Not Stocked – Alt was 10 for £2
  • Honest Value Eggs – £1.40
  • 3 Onions – £0.95
  • Honest Value Rice 1kg – Not Stocked – Alt was £2.20 for 1kg
  • Peppers – £1.55
  • Tomato & Basil Pasta Sauce (440g) £0.55 – OOS – Alt was £1.85 for 300g
  • Pasta – 500g for £1.05
  • Frozen Mixed Veg – £1
  • Tuna – £1
  • Sardines – £0.55
  • Soft Cheese 200g – £1.35 / Alt was 165g for £1 (low fat version)
  • Baked Beans – £0.32 – OOS / Alt was £0.44
  • Honest Value Gravy Granules – £0.40

So for me this shop came to £23.76 with 2 items completely missing (Tomatoes and Spring Onions)

Overall out of 35 items in the Honest Value range only 17 are stocked at my local(ish) store and out of that 17 only 10 were actually in stock. My nearest store has even less. I do appreciate the effort that Co Op has put in to creating this range to help with the Cost of Living crisis but I am so disappointed with implementation here.


Comparison of Food Shop Today v January

I took my basket from Asda online in January and tried to reorder, 33% increase in cost.

Maybe I’m just confused here, but when I see the media discussing inflation at 11% I expect that to mean things going up by 11%, but to me this has felt really unmanageable and I’ve struggled to keep hold of my shopping budget.  Things like Youngs fish, Turkey dinosaurs etc have been replaced with Asda Basics fish fingers now and looking at this I can see why.

My shop in Asda, done in January, if ordered now has increased from £54.59 to a huge £72.48.  That is £17.89 increase (33%) that I, like most of us just don’t have.  Right now, I’m coping by downgrading.  I buy Asda basics everything pretty much (& still struggle to keep in budget) but I worry about those who were buying Asda basics before?  What will they downgrade too? 

Side hustles aren’t just pin money now for so many of us ‘hustling’ is becoming real, changing mortgage payment dates, using clear pay, laybuy, Klarna, not just for luxury purchases but for our children’s shoes is becoming the reality.  I’m not going to suffer by dropping the Cherry Bakewell’s from my weekly basket, it could even be a benefit and the children don’t need cheese strings.  But they need something surely.  I’m ashamed to say there’s literally no fruit in my basket below!!  (It was an exceptionally poor week but also I tend to stock up on frozen every month or so), so I’d be really interested to see if anyone does have a similar comparison.

A comparison of my January Weekly food shop and how much it would cost today (6 months later)


Results – June round up

So June wasn’t too bad after all. Lots of spending obviously since I am completely out of control but managed to hustle a few bits on the side and have some great leads and ideas to check out.

The big surprise was the surveys. Ended up £50 up on those which is pretty good for something I was so down on. All surveys were on Prolific.

Less surprising was the Match Betting, the gift that just keeps giving. This month a grand total of £496, now in fairness that includes a bit of casino but I usually keep them both together and this is after about 2 years so all sign ups are gone. The best place to get started with Match Betting is Team Profit, they have a really clear guide that you just follow step by step and a Facebook group where you can ask questions. I have a referral link below – if you sign up and follow there guide from my link I get £10 but I’m only recommending it as its the place I use. https://www.teamprofit.com/lydia

The blog has again made nothing. But that is expected since I still haven’t done any SEO. If anyone has a decent SEO guide I can use to learn then I would really appreciate it!

Body Shop at Home is currently at -£29 as I signed up and haven’t yet sold anything. Here is my link > Worst Consultant EU (for now) https://consultant.thebodyshop.com/en-gb/myshop/lydiahayward/

KDP Print on Demand £9 which I think is actually decent considering I haven’t even logged in to KDP for about 5 weeks and only have 1 book that actually sells.

What is happening in July

Exciting stuff basically. Firstly SEO. It sounds so boring but if the blog can ever make any money I need to do it.

Next up is affiliate marketing and referrals. On one hand, I’m going to follow some referrals (the ‘deposit £1 get a free share, low level ones’ but also I’m going to try referring people a bit myself.

Amazon Associates. I signed up last night, going to use my Instagram primarily for this one. I’m thinking Prime Day/Christmas bargains type things. With a news feed on the site too.

Lastly I have made some nice budgeting tools and spreadsheets, so I need to get these finished up and on the blog ready for you to download by the end of July.

So, a fairly profitable June and I’m hoping to expand on that in July. Let me know what you are planning too!


The Body Shop At Home

They have had a makeover, so time to test

To start with, just want to say I’m not a fan of MLM. The vast majority of people lose money and I am only testing this because I have been paid and fully expecting to lose my £29. I’m also not planning on spending any money of my own after the initial sign up fee.

So first up, to get started I needed to find a consultant (or fill in the webform to be assigned one). If you are signing up you can just use my brand new link at the bottom of page. We do live in the world of instant gratification after all, so you don’t want to be hanging around waiting on webforms.

The first hoop to jump through, is to chose your starter kit. You can pay £29 or £59 basically. The £29 has 5 basic items in, the £59 has 15 items. I’m on a budget and as I said above budgeted to lose my sign up fee so I went with the cheaper option.

The sign up process should only take around 5 minutes. You fill in your usual personal details and at the end you will either be straight set up or it will ask for ID. In my case I needed a utility bill with my address on. I sent over via webform a screenshot from my electricity account Saturday night and received my welcome email Sunday morning.

In your welcome email, you will get your username & password along with a link to your own shop.

Everything looks pretty fancy.

I have some incentives to hit. I don’t really know what I’m going to get for hitting them, but I’ve always been a big fan of targets.

The thing I am most keen on though, is my own little website link.

This 100% appeals to my lazy side. Some great sale items here and if I can just get people to serve themselves then that is the best kind of passive income.

Next place to check out is the TBS Learning hub. Here you get a run through of all the super important things like how to navigate the site and place your first orders.

After you have completed your training (or before if you just know everything!) you are all set to get going! Start a Facebook group, invite all your friends, share, share & share your link.

I can’t rate this side-hustle quite yet, as I’m on Day 2. But I will throw myself into it with full enthusiasm over the next month and let you know how I am getting on.

Now if you are looking to sign up (or buy some stuff) my site link is here: https://consultant.thebodyshop.com/en-gb/myshop/lydiahayward/ for you to use.


Online Surveys

Online Surveys are always recommended for stay at home mums, but why?

I have to say, I have always had a tendency to sneer a little bit when I see people looking for a side hustle and someone recommends “online surveys” however, if so many people recommend it then it should be checked out right?

I chose prolific as I always hear good things about them, and had actually already opened an account back in 2020. First things first, there was already £15 on my account from my last surveys. No idea why I left there!! As you might have seen from my other posts I’m down to approx. 0.18p for this month so I withdrew that right away!

The site itself is pretty user friendly, once you sign up you are asked to fill in a lot of questionnaires, everything from politics, to family to locations. I felt a bit cheated but they do this so you don’t need to go through the hassle of starting surveys only to be told you aren’t eligible.

About Me section of Prolific

Once that was complete, I waited. and surprisingly I didn’t have to wait very long at all for some surveys to appear. (if you use a desktop PC you don’t even need to refresh, you can browse other tabs with it open and wait to see a little (1) appear.

So for about 4 hours, I’ve kept my eye on the surveys. Done the ones that look bearable. And BOOM £6.69

Now I’m really lazy, & get bored pretty quickly. So I didn’t do all the surveys offered to me, but I am quite taken in with the idea that if I do about £6 a day this week, by Friday afternoon I will have around £20 to withdraw for some treats for the children over the weekend.

So I do quite like this one really, it is low effort and if you are just looking for a little bit of treat money for the children not a bad way to go about it.


Play a Podcast – Get £5

Sounds easy right? I could use £5 right now, so let’s try it.

If you use Amazon and haven’t played a podcast yet you are probably familiar with this offer, since it is on the homepage every day. I actually had some trouble finding it today but it was on the top right

So, dutifully I click the offer. I am so ready for my £5 today thank you. This is where it gets a bit annoying. I can’t find any podcasts, the next page is just music. But they know I clicked the £5 offer, so I feel like I’m being made to work harder for my £5 than necessary.

I don’t have an Amazon Music subscription, I like Spotify, so now I’m worried that I need to subscribe.

These both say that they are included in my Prime subscription

So why when I click them, does it offer 30 days free trial then £8.99 per month. Eventually, after a very frustrating 5 minutes it asks me to log in, and so despite seeing my name & orders at top of screen I wasn’t logged in, which is very weird.

Once logged in I can chose Podcasts and I’m presented with loads of options!

I went with the Always Sunny in Philadelphia podcast, though realised too late that I couldn’t connect it from my PC to Alexa for whatever reason so had no sound. But surely Amazon doesn’t know that?

3 minutes into my Podcast, enough is enough. Where is my fiver Amazon? I go rummaging through the account, gift cards, top ups, coins (what is Amazon coins? one for another day but I really want to know).

It is at this point I decide to find the terms and conditions. Apparently, I will get a gift card code to use via email. I’m refreshing my email every minute but nothing through yet. I promise to come back and update once received though!

How long do you think I will manage hold on without spending it though?


Mindful Spending – The Weekend Challenge

No spend is all the rage right now, but realistically that can’t work for everyone.

Today is June 18th and I have £47 to last until payday (27th) I don’t have anything going on right now that may increase this amount really,.

Now my usual approach (& let me know if this rings any bells to anyone) is to focus on what I can afford and basically take myself down to £0 then once at £0 go on an extreme, enforced no spend. This month I would really like to save as much of that £47 as I can to get a bit of a head start on bills.

The Weekend Challenge

I’ve taken my £47, & popped it into my savings account. It is instant access and if I make a decision to spend it I can transfer it instantly using my phone. This way, no micro transactions can go out. £6.99, £3.99, £5.99 I find it a huge flaw in the banking system that its not possible to cancel recurring card payments via your bank.

Fathers Day

My instinct was to take the children to a lovely little cake shop that sells gifts. They could pick a small gift each and then we’d all get cake. Cost £15+

Instead, they are going to use our jewellery making supplies to make him a Dad bracelet. Then cook him his favourite dinner, which happens to be mushroom pizza so very easy & child friendly. We have the ingredients already so that will be completely free!

Children’s Treat

Yikes, what do I even do with the children without spending money? The little one is all about trains and buses, but obviously these are expensive as an adult, then you get your random destination, & generally feel forced to buy something.

Last weekend we took a bus to a nearby town. £9 on my bus fare then £4 on a Paw Patrol Magazine because the café wasn’t open yet. £3.30 on a mushroom ready meal for Mr Calamity that only M&S sell (just because this town happened to have M&S in the petrol station) then £8 on cake and tea. So that was £24.30. On what was billed as a really cheap outing.

So, this weekend I’m going to try and entertain the children for free. I’m thinking Fathers Day crafts & baking, bike to the park & yeah basically that.

Good luck to everyone else cutting costs this weekend! I’m in a really good position that I have food in the house + raw ingredients for baking & cooking activities for the children, so really no excuse to fail.


10 for £10 at Iceland is back

& its as popular as ever! Save up to £12.50 with 150 products to chose from.

Now realistically you need to spend £25 and pay for delivery, or £40 for free delivery. But with the school holidays coming up (in Scotland at least they start end of June) this could be a great way to stock up on those snacks.

If I’m completely honest though, if you are really struggling this might not be the deal for you. the sweetshop themed ice lollies are a great treat, but even then, it is 4 in a box for £1, that doesn’t go very far and you can pick up 6 fruit splits for £1 at Asda or even 8 Smart Price Lollies. If I was getting an Iceland shop anyways I would probably go for it as you do get some savings on products I use. But I wouldn’t go especially

It is here if you did want it though https://www.iceland.co.uk/

Have you taken this offer? What 10 items did you chose?


Batch Cooking – Vegetable Thai Green Curry

84p per portion (makes 12)

Makes 12 portions, great for the freezer, meat free.

Cost: £9.98 my basket is from Asda and so this one comes in at 84p per portion

My shopping basket at Asda (pt 1)
My shopping basket at Asda Pt 2

This recipe could not be easier.

Prepare all vegetables by washing and cutting into chunks.

Gently fry your vegetables in 4 tablespoons of your Thai Green Curry Paste.

Once vegetables are partially cooked, add both tins of coconut milk

Simmer for approx 10 mins or until vegetables are fully cooked.

Once you are all cooked up, pop into your Tupperware containers and freeze until you are ready to use. Serve with rice!


Bitcoin – The crash. Holding Tight but not feeling good

“Quick, it’s on sale” he says…

It is 2022, inflation is rampant, I’ve downgraded everything in our cupboard and the kitchen is now a sea of yellow (Asda Smart Price are mid rebrand to Essentials) and I feel like every other day I’m getting a letter from the bank advising that my mortgage payment is to go up.

About 6 weeks ago I came to terms with £3000 savings now being worth around £1500, the promised bull run to $100k + never happened and Bitcoin dropped to around $30k. It was impressive timing for me, given how skint we are, what was perhaps more impressive was Mr Calamity’s insistence that it was a sale, huge opportunity and we should buy more immediately (with what money I can only imagine – probably would have sold the house if I let him).

But today… shockingly. It has dropped even more. I have to say, even I’m a bit tempted to put my pennies together right now. Main thing stopping me is the fact that right now, even paying for a school trip is requiring careful consideration.

So why is this happened?

Well I’m no expert, but my limited research seems to suggest that increasing inflation, raising interest rates and fears of recession are tending to put the fear into people. They are then getting rid of risky investments (crypto) in order to protect themselves. The more who do it the more then see it happening and do it.

Are we selling?

No, Mr Calamity wouldn’t allow it, I already sold all altcoins a few months ago to create a new Match Betting bank for myself for Cheltenham which basically used any favours I have.


Entering competitions, fun and maybe lucrative?

I love entering competitions. These days it can be a bit too easy with all the tweeting & retweeting, they don’t always feel real. But every time I enter any competition, in that moment I know I’m going to win. I rarely actually do win anything… but in the moment of entering I really get such a buzz of joy over whatever that item is.

I tend to comp on and off, I will have a heavy week of it then give it in despair for a few months if I don’t get instant gratification. In my last heavy week on, I did manage to bag a snuggle sac, super cute toddler sleeping bag and a pack of sugar free yoghurts. Both prizes were used by my household and appreciated but I’m not sure my time to reward ratio wouldn’t have been better elsewhere.

Best thing about comping is the ease of entry. You can literally do it anywhere, waiting for the bus or in the doctors. It can definitely add excitement to your day.

The negatives though, are that it is really uncertain and also always remember, you are selling your data. Often very cheaply in this case. The amount of spam emails you will be getting after a big comping session is crazy.

But assuming you are in! This is the best place to start:

Competition Time on MoneySaving Expert. The guys in this forum are brilliant, they collate competitions from all over the place.

Competition Time, way to earn extra at home.

So first things first, sort your competitions to ones that end today or tomorrow (back to that instant gratification need again!) then just start from the top.

Initially I’d say to enter everything. If you don’t want the prize, its Christmas soon. Gift it or sell it. This is a numbers game for sure.

After you have done a catch up spread of entries do a little search for any competitions with a prize you are really after, maybe you need a new iPad or have your eye on a PS5 for Christmas. It is worth targeting the competitions that are particularly of interest to you in case you stop comping quickly.

Now a competition run by Sony for an in-home cinema experience will attract thousands of entries, this means your chances of winning are quite low while something niche like a meal for two at a restaurant in your village will have far less entries so a higher chance to win.

Also a competition that requires effort will attract less entries. Anything you need to think about or that requires a bit of patience, so those ones are definitely worth looking out for too.

If you really want to give it a shot but struggle to keep up your motivation, I always enjoy looking at the ‘I won’ section of the MSE forum. Its great for some inspiration and to see what others are getting each month.

So good luck, happy comping! Let me know how you get on.

Mindful Spending – Monday Update

When YNAB preached budgeting to zero, I don’t think this is what they had in mind.

Current Balance: £0.18

This isn’t great… well it is great for Co-Op, just not for me. Or anyone in the Calamity household basically.

So, it was Fathers Day, if you remember I had planned the children to make a bracelet, homemade pizza, crumble & custard. I had everything required.

Mr Calamity asked to swap out the crumble for Chocolate Ice Cream. It is Father’s Day afterall. Ok, ok I get it. So off we went to the shop. Now in fairness we were actually low on more things than I thought, so some spending was definitely legit.

  • 2 x Luxury chocolate ice cream – £3.55 (Mr Calamity needed a whole one to himself)
  • Pack of 4 toilet rolls – £3.50 (usually £1.99 from Asda)
  • Whole Milk – £1.55 for 4 pints (£1.35 from Asda)
  • Angel Cakes – £1.85 (Little one picked these up & it wasn’t worth the meltdown)
  • Dog Food x 1 tin – £1.10

Total £15.80

I shouldn’t have bought the Ice Cream or Cakes, I really do see that now.

But still, did I learn? Nope, obviously not. So last night Mr Calamity declares the kettle a limescale zone. It has limescale in it and so it is now dead to him. He NEEEEEEDS caffeine, but can’t have tea or coffee from the kettle. Or clean the kettle, I guess its tainted now.

Rather than watch him mope around crying about caffeine while drinking all our milk, I agreed on a co op online shop.

  • 3 x Irn Bru Xtra – £1.50 per bottle
  • 2 x french stick – £1 each (for dinner)
  • 2 x whole milk – £1.55 each
  • 2 x loaf of bread – £0.89 each
  • 1 x luxury ice cream – £3.55
  • 1 x Banana Bread – £1 (for the smallest, its about all he eats)
  • 1 x edam cheese slices – £2.55
  • choc ices box of 6 – £1.20 (so that the house plebs can have a treat while Mr Calamity eats the luxury ice cream)
  • coleslaw – £1.90
  • eggs – £1.40
  • 6 pack of dog food – £4.10

Total – £30ish. I say ish as it was more like £26 but then you pay delivery, bags and a 10% surcharge in case of substitutions.

I’ve also given my daughter £1.40 for various school raffles & bake sales this morning. This came from the bottom of handbag, behind the sofa fund.

I think we can all agree here that milk, bread, toilet roll, eggs and dog food are sensible purchases. Everything else seems to come from a place of people pleasing only. Now I don’t mind pleasing the 4 year old with banana bread that costs £1, but 3 tubs of luxury ice cream for a grown man isn’t ideal.

So a week of forced extreme no spend ahead then. Great.

co op prices and selection are limited, without a car you really pay a premium

Interest Free Loan Scheme Expansion – NiLs

Supporting with school uniforms, replacing white goods and unexpected expenses

The government backed scheme in Manchester is run by Credit Unions, and is now rolling out to cover an additional 20,000 households. The loans are usually between £500 and £2000 and are aiming to help the financially vulnerable who may not pass traditional affordability checks due to the interest being charged.

For more information please visit https://nils.org.uk/

Crypto Update

BTC drops below $20k

Ouch, I just did my morning check & saw Bitcoin was below $20000, $19.2k to be precise. & Ethereum is hovering around the $1k mark.

I bought my BTC with Mr Calamity across a period of about 8 months & the price ranged from $40-60k (yeah thats right, we bought at the absolute peak of BTC!) so our savings are pretty wrecked right now.

So we are still holding tight, but not with much confidence from me and I do kind of wish we weren’t. Mr Calamity however is still bullish & if he could he would put our last £47 in to Bitcoin no question.


Bitcoin just dropped below $19k Ethereum below $1k and low & behind, I got the call from Mr Calamity asking where we can find money to buy. I’m trying to put him off… wish me luck!