Category Archives: Money

ISAs just got NISA

ISAs just got NISA! No really, they did! Don’t run away now because of that rubbish headline, OR because you think this is going to be a long and boring post  – it’s not. It’s going to be so simple that even I can understand it! Whoop!

So here’s the deal. At the moment, should you be sensible enough to have an ISA, you can save up to £11,880 tax free. Yes, thanks HMRC for that wonderfully convenient number for us to remember. But wait – there’s more on the inconvenient number front – only £5,940 of that can be in a cash ISA. Though you can have as much in a stocks and shares ISA as you like, up to…wait a minute, I wrote it down here somewhere…yes, up to £11,880. Minus whatever’s in your Cash ISA, of course. Bored? Confused?

Me too. But the good news is that it’s all getting much simpler. Like, properly, sensibly simple. From 1st July, this is the deal…

  • ISAs will now be called New ISAs
  • There will still be two types of NISA available – cash and investment – and you can have one of each per year
  • You can save up to £15,000 tax free per year
  • This can be split in any way you like (or not at all) between your Cash and Investment  NISAs
  • If you have an ISA it will automatically switch over to being a New ISA

And that, my friends, is that! Perfectly simple and straightforward. One lovely, easy number to remember. And you don’t even have to do anything to your current ISA – it just sort of magically happens at midnight on Monday. Hurrah! Bish bash bosh! Job done! Bob’s yer Uncle! (Unless he’s about to keel over leaving £15K, in which case he’s very much MY uncle.)

I did my research on this on the Scottish Friendly website – they have a brilliant downloadable guide which explains everything really well, and also a short video (below) which talks through the New ISAs. It’s well worth a look if you want to find out more about the New ISA, or in fact about savings and investments in general, in a surprisingly non-stuffy fashion. AND they have a cool timeline thing at the bottom which is kinda fun, even if it does make me feel ancient! And if you do Twitter, they can be found here.

**Disclaimer – this is a sponsored post, written in collaboration with Scottish Friendly**

The Foodbank App

This is the second time I’ve started this post. The first time, it turned into a sweary rant about how in TWO THOUSAND AND FOURTEEN we need food banks at all, FFS. Ooops – there I go again. Sorry…

Ok….What I want to tell you about is the Foodbank App. As you’ll no doubt know, all the food distributed by food banks is donated by the general public, either at dedicated collection points, or through workplace collection schemes, or at a supermarket donation point.

One of the problems food banks come up against is that they’ll often end up with a glut of one type of food, and not enough of another. For example, my local food bank is running short of fruit juice and sugar at the moment, but has plenty of baked beans and teabags. While nothing goes to waste, and all donations are welcome, it can be difficult for volunteers to make up balanced food parcels with an unpredictable supply.

Which is why the Foodbank App is such a great idea. It’s a really simple app, that doesn’t take up much space and is free to download, and it features a straightforward red/amber/green system. Foods highlighted in red are needed urgently; those in amber are running low, while green list items are those which aren’t needed just now. It’s a great solution to the difficulty of managing an unpredictable supply of food at your local food bank.

So if you give to your local food bank, please download the app so your donation can be used as effectively as possible. If you don’t donate food already, please consider it – Cardiff Foodbank alone fed 800 people in February – your support is needed.

Thanks for reading,


foodbank app




On cash at Christmas

**’On cash at Christmas’ first appeared in Canton and Pontcanna Matters**

I don’t know about you but this time of year is when I start to panic a bit (ok, a lot) about how our finances will cope over the festive season. It’s particularly hard in these middle years of their childhood – too old to be fobbed off with large cardboard boxes containing not very much at all, too young to be sent out to earn a living to pay for their keep. (Note to self – eldest is 8 so can’t be too far away. Get in touch with the jobcentre to get him pre-registered).

So here’s a few tips to help you save money for the season of expensiveness:

  1. Save a little bit every month, from January. I’m actually cringing a bit as I write this because I never, ever manage to do it. I do start, but then there’s a holiday, or a birthday, or some other unforeseen event. But I swear 2014 will be the year!
  2. Start picking up stocking fillers as soon as the kids go back to school in September. It’s amazing how much all the little bits add up if you are getting them in one go, but a couple of items a week for a three months feels much less painful on the pocket. (There are somethings you’re best not to get in September. For instance satsumas. They go green. And chocolates. They just, er, go.)
  3. Sneak non-presents onto the present quota. Stuff like pencil cases which they need anyway, or pyjamas and slippers. The younger they are, the more of this devious behaviour you can get away with!
  4. Gumtree and eBay are your friends. Last year my daughter really wanted a pink desk (don’t judge me, I don’t do pink myself, but I seem to have spawned a girly girl.) All we could find in the shops was plastic, tacky and dressing table-like. But Gum Tree came to our rescue with a really good quality little desk, for next to nothing.
  5. Reconditioned electronic goods are much cheaper, but as far as the kids are concerned are brand new. My older kids are in iPod/DS territory this year – which is manageable if they’re reconditioned but crippling otherwise. It also makes the inevitable losing/breaking/spilling squash over them slightly more bearable when it happens – and you know it will…
  6. Food…it is so easy to get sucked into buying all sorts of delicious goodies on your way round the supermarket. And there’s nothing wrong with that – if you don’t end up throwing them away! Sure, it’s lovely to have eight different types of cheese in the house, but if your kids only eat common or garden cheddar, there’s a reasonable chance you wont get through it all. Plan your menus, work out your list, and stick to it!
  7. Food again…We are really lucky in Canton and Pontcanna with a wide range if indie shops. Buy your Christmas veggies from a greengrocer, and get your turkey from a butcher. Not only will you be supporting independent traders in our community, but you’ll save a shedload.
  8. if you are really strapped, check out Cardiff and Vale Credit Union’s current loan deal – borrow £500 for Christmas, make 12 monthly payments of £56, total repayable £550.38 AND you will have £120 in savings for next Christmas. More details at

So there you go, the LearnerMother guide to surviving Christmas. You’re welcome!