Money eh? We could all do with a bit more of it and, at the same time, we could probably all do without the hassle of it.

No matter where we go or what we do, we need money to be able to get by in life – from the small things right up to life changing purchases such as buying a house.

But, while we all have to use money every day, do we actually know what we’re doing? Families across the UK have an average unsecured debt of more than £13,000 – but are they confident enough to manage their money without this being a big problem?

A worrying picture of confusion when it comes to finance

NS&I conducted a survey to try to understand whether or not Brits fully understood the terms used by their banks and building societies.

It found that:

  • One third of Brits don’t know what a BACS payment is and only 38 per cent know what AER means
  • Only about a half of people surveyed (53 per cent) knew what ISA stood for
  • One in ten admit to guessing what a term means when they don’t know

The Mirror also reported some worrying findings from a study conducted by MoneySupermarket about credit cards, which are a big part of the growing debt levels for UK households.

Among its findings were that:

  • Two thirds of credit card holders say they don’t understand how their cards work
  • One in ten people don’t know how much interest they pay
  • One in five respondents said they didn’t know how to check their credit report

All these point to worrying gaps in knowledge for large parts of the population. With basics such as this missing, it seems unlikely that large parts of the population would be able to get around complex pension arrangement or understand what a SIPP investment is. This raises fears for the future, as the Government tries to get to grips with how best to fund an ageing population.

UK lags behind when it comes to financial literacy

Yet, is it any wonder that we struggle with these issues as a nation when, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), we are below average at teaching financial literacy?

The OECD found that the UK ranked 15th out of 30 countries for this, below Estonia and Latvia and concepts such as inflation and calculating interest were not well understood by Brits.

It certainly thinks more can be done in the education system to address this, stating: “Schools can also assist children and young people in developing the skills and attitudes that will help them to achieve financial wellbeing, and encourage positive habits and behaviours such as making spending plans, saving and planning ahead.”

A problem on the horizon

The combination of a lack of knowledge and high household debt should be a cause for concern. Indeed, the debt alone has caused consternation for the governor of the Bank of England.

It seems that families aren’t fully aware of what they need to know when it comes to money. Better education – to children and adults – is clearly needed when it comes to the practical knowledge you need to manage your finances.

I am in partnership with Argos to launch the new range of My Little Pony accessories and toys.

I wrote recently about our trip to the zoo and the importance of embracing our inner child, so it shouldn’t really come as a surprise to see me tweeting things like this:

Yes, that’s Rainbow Dash. I’ve decided that she is quite possibly my favourite ever My Little Pony because she has HAIR THE COLOUR OF RAINBOWS. (You can’t see it all in that photo, because I especially curled the red section neatly around the front and the other colours are behind her.)

The night that I took that photo, I sat with her on my lap for two hours while we watched TV, combing her hair, winding it around my fingers and separating out the colours. There was something quite magical about it – a bit like having a pet. I felt relaxed and content.

And also slightly jealous.

I remember as a child being jealous of my ponies’ hair. I’ve always had pretty rubbish hair – it’s very fine and won’t do anything at all that you ask it to – but my My Little Ponies, well, their hair was special. There was something about how it came out of the top of their head and curved around their face in a way that I knew mine would never do. It made them look demure and sophisticated and mysterious – all of the things I imagined I would be when I grew up, if only my hair would wave around my face like that.

Alas, it never did. View Post

Gousto food delivery

I quite often tell the story of when Bee went off to university for the first time, and had to share a flat with seven other students. In that entire flat of eight apparently grown up people, Bee was the only one who knew how to use a washing machine.

Isn’t that shocking??

On the one hand I was proud, but on the other, kind of embarrassed on their behalf. How had these young adults grown up without being taught how to do basic tasks around the house? It quickly became clear that what they lacked in washing machine skills, they most definitely did NOT make up for in the kitchen.

Teaching children how to do things for themselves like cooking, cleaning, catching trains and generally taking care of themselves, is surely what parenting is all about? Yes, you have to look after them a bit, and make sure they don’t walk into roads and stuff, but ultimately your goal is to equip them with the skills to function as an independent adult, not shelter them from all responsibility. If your child goes off to university never having used a washing machine, then something has gone wrong.

It’s one of the reasons I really like trying out recipe box schemes like Gousto.

Gousto is the compromise between simply handing your child a hardback Delia Smith and a Tesco Clubcard, and driving yourself mad trying to cook delicious yet wholesome meals for a whole family EVERY SINGLE DAY FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. Instead you get to cook from scratch, but without the hassle of having to decide what to make or go shopping for ingredients. View Post

We’ve been in our new house for about seven weeks now. It feels like WAY longer, which I’m taking as a good sign because that must mean it feels like home right?

One of the things that I’ve been meaning to do since we moved in is to put up a picture on the plain white chimney breast wall in our living room. We had a family photo shoot done before we moved with Life is Crawsome, so I had been thinking that one of those photos would be nice. But then I was a bit nervous about having a giant ME smiling down while I watched TV, so I decided a mirror might be a better option.

It was brilliant timing actually, as Exclusive Mirrors had been a touch previously asking if I fancied taking a look at one of their mirrors, so I said ‘yes please thank you very much’ and picked the Claremont round gold mirror.

‘This Claremont round gold mirror is oh so stylish with its uniquely designed frame,’ the website told me. ‘The stunning mirror is finished in a luxurious gold and comes complete with wow factor frame. Perfectly suited to either a contemporary or traditional setting the mirror is extremely versatile.  Customers have the option with this Claremont round gold mirror to feature it either on its own or alongside other stylish furniture and accessories to create a fabulous appearance.’

Luckily the quality of the mirror is not reflected by the quality of the description writing.

(See what I did there? REFLECTED? I’m so good at this.)

Here it is, with me in it obviously:

review mirror exclusive mirrors

Isn’t it beautiful?

It’s just over a metre in diameter and so fills the chimney breast perfectly. I loved the fact that it looked like a huge flower. I painted the wall this lovely turquoise colour especially to really make it stand out and I love how the colour comes through each of the petals. View Post

Created in association with Heinz 

Heinz No Added Sugar Spaghetti Hoops review

I’ve always had this morbid fantasy about what’s going to happen when I die.

(Bear with me…)

In my mind I picture a scene a bit like this one in Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey. I imagine that once I’ve answered a series of questions to confirm it’s me, that I’ll be given a huge book full of statistics on everything I’ve ever done – number of hours spent asleep – 233,601; number of sandwiches from school packed lunches that I’ve thrown away at 3.30pm – 3,296 – that sort of thing. Some of it might be in graph form, because whoever is in charge will appreciate that I like a good graph.

Under the category ‘Family Teas > 1995 – 2010 > Tinned’ I expect there to be a fairly substantial entry for spaghetti hoops. Or, as it has always been known here, ‘ghetty’. (A bit like the images but without the hefty legal bills.)

With Alphabetti Spaghetti limited to special occasions only, number one in the chart would definitely be Heinz Spaghetti Hoops.

Heinz No Added Sugar Spaghetti Hoops review

There is just something wonderful isn’t there about the way you can gather them up on your fork? I remember quite vividly as a child the thrill of lining them up neatly on every other prong, so as not to crowd them, and seeing how many I could fit on before an adult said ‘stop messing about with your hoops and just eat your tea.’

Both of my children have always loved Heinz Spaghetti Hoops. A tin of Heinz Hoops is a staple in our cupboard – a sure-fire way to please everyone when they were small.

I ask Belle what she likes most about Heinz Hoops. View Post