Feeding time - the wonders of baby rice

If you are expecting or have just had a baby, I cannot emphasise more, the benefits of having in your cupboards, a packet of baby rice.
It is bland, it's seemingly of not much use, but baby rice in our house, is a godsend.

Take for example the throwing away of four rusks, mashed up in a dish with milk and heated, only to find it's either too lumpy or too runny.
Add more rusk and it soaks up next to none of the existing mix - too lumpy, add more milk still the lumps remain.
Here's where the baby rice comes in handy, add a small amount of baby rice and hey presto, an even texture that will soak up a too runny rusk and give baby a good meal.

Add baby rice sparingly as it thickens up any sloppy dinner well.
Feed as a meal on its own or add baby rice to any meal to fill it out.
It will also save on washing, too runny a meal and you have to change baby's top or bibs.

Direct line motor insurance

Direct line motor insurance

According to Direct line (motor insurance) the following events demonstrate how they "help" their customers:

  • For 8 years with the same car (basic 1600cc), the price rises every year at the renewal, to a price above what the same policy would cost a new customer - reasons given for the increases in price include - "you are a manual worker and therefore more likely to have a claim" - "we have had lots of claims in the last year for this type of vehicle" - "other companies are also putting their prices up" - "you have an older car and it is more likely that parts will be harder to find or it will be written off"
  • Car is changed to a 2 year old car, different model but still a basic 1600cc - the price to insure it increases (again above the price a new customer would pay). Reason given - "It is a newer vehicle and spare parts will be more expensive"
  • Car is changed again, this time to a smaller engine, just 1200cc, the price to insure it goes up!
    Reason given - "You are halfway through the year of your insurance" - once again more expensive than for a new customer - I am then offered a choice, I can terminate the policy and start again as a new customer for an admin fee of £25, or I can keep the policy and change vehicles for an admin fee of £15.
  • Car is changed again, this time to a 2 litre engine (I am expecting the price to go up) I am not disappointed, the price goes up, but as we want to continue to insure the 1200cc for a short while, fully comprehensive, I am told that to insure that vehicle also, would be an extra £436!
    Reason given - "Once you change your insurance to the 2 litre car, the 1200cc has nil no claims bonus on it and is charged at the full rate without any discount!" - I stated the obvious, that no car has any "no claims" as this is applicable to the driver not the vehicle - "errrr I am not sure what you mean" says the advisor, I bet he doesn't...

To summarise how good Direct line motor insurance are with their customers:

- 1600 car, insurance increases every year for 8 years
- a newer 1600 car, the price goes up
- a drop down to a 1200 car, the price goes up
- a 2 litre car, the price goes up
- to keep the 1200 on the insurance, the price goes up
- admin fees applied to existing loyal customers, becoming penalty charges as profits are clearly being made on them. (It is unlawful to make profit from a penalty charge!)
- new customer's receiving cheaper insurance than loyal existing ones.

Is there any scenario where Direct line motor insurance charges an existing customer LESS?
In 15 years, I haven't come across one yet...

World cup cashback offers - BEWARE!

Anything and everything has been promoted with a link to the world cup finals in South Africa, in a bid to sell you something.

One of the most common so far, are the television cashback offers.

The Time's reported on Saturday that those offering money back per England goal scored, offered little if no value to the customer at all.
One example they gave was a 38 inch flat screen television set, on an England cashback of £10 per goal scored (excluding penalties), for £829.99 - said to be a "Sale" price, with a well known high street retailer.
On further inspection, the same television set is available with another high street retailer, not in a "Sale" nor does it have the cashback offer, for £649.99

To break even with the cheaper priced set, England would need to score 18 goals to be equal in value.
In reality, England average 6 goals per world cup finals they play in.

Of course, here at frugal ways, we are well aware that football is not about the quality of the TV set, nor is it about all the add on sales pushed in your face, it's about the event and as long as you can get to watch it, then all will be fine.

How long to clear a cheque?

If you are a customer of Santander/Abbey, you will know that paying a cheque into your bank account and having your funds cleared, is like pulling teeth!

Three working days is the standard time for a cheque to clear, it is instant in bank accounts with money in them over a set limit (like £100,000) - the balance used to be available as soon as it was put in, not any more.

Santander staff tell me that it is "Three banking days for cheque funds to clear into an account."
Why then, did I deposit a cheque Tuesday morning and the three "banking days" have passed and still no funds?
"It will clear on Monday next week," says the advisor like I am getting a good deal.
"So Saturday is not a banking day then?" I ask,
"No it is not!" came the reply.
"So your banks don't open on Saturdays then?" I teased,
"Yes, this is so we can help our customers" once again, said as if it was the bank doing me a favour by delaying my cheque funds,
"So how exactly does it help me, for the bank to keep my funds in a clearing account so they can make interest on mine and everyone else's  funds?"

Before she could reply, I started laughing at her... "Your bank are useless" I stated as it is factually accurate, "Can you provide access to the funds for my cheque, that has now been with your bank for five days and will be until monday next week?"

"I'm afraid not sir!" said sounding like a robot,
"You are useless then!" I put the phone down on her.

If you are wealthy, money transfers, cheques, etc, all get actioned by banks within 24 hours, if you are normal and need access to funds quickly, then banks take an incredibly long time to clear a basic cheque.
So much for modern technology eh!

10 things that keep a toddler interested

Our sprog number 2, is fast approaching 9 months of age. Here is the latest top ten list of things that hold her attention, that she likes to play with:

  1. String or spaghetti
  2. An empty cardboard box
  3. Labels - be it on clothing or muslin squares
  4. Her own feet
  5. An old mobile phone
  6. Wooden clothes pegs - the "dolly" type (ace for chewing as her teeth come through!)
  7. Zips
  8. An old remote control
  9. Balls - of any size and texture. Cricket, tennis, football, etc, of any size
  10. The cat's tail

£8 odd for fancy rattles and god knows how much for musical teddy bears, waste of space so far. Things with different textures and sizes, things she sees mum an dad using around the house are much more fun it would seem.
Who would have thought that toy manufacturers after all these years would still be struggling to find the "ideal toy" for a child under one year of age?