Saturday, 30 June 2012

Day of Reckoning


It has been 6 months since I started in earnest my frugal journey; I had been a mere dabbler before.  I kicked the year off with just over £18,000 of debt (apart from the mortgage) and a steely determination to not only clear this debt but to make a conscious and permanent change to my consumerist ways.  I am a novice and I’ve had good days and bad days but that steely determination has remained, admittedly waivered occasionally but thankfully it still remains)

On 1st January 2012 my debt was thus:

Credit Card         £5294.54
DFS                     £678
Car Loan            £5000
Student Loans   £7240

Total Debt           £18212.54

So 6 months in:

Credit Card         £0.00
DFS                      £0.00
Car Loan              £2000
Student Loans     £7240 

Current Debt     £9240

My credit card for the first time in years is clear and so it shall remain.  I have made the final installment on a sofa from DFS and I’ve cleared (by overpaying) £3000 off my car loan.  I purposely chose a car loan that allowed you to pay early without penalty, the interest rate is slightly higher (put it was only slightly 0.25% higher) and I am determined to clear this loan by September and by paying early (4 years early) will have saved over £1200 in interest!

So what’s left, well £2000 on the car loan and £7240 student loan (sorry the Government is last on the list).  The car loan due to it being a higher interest rate takes precedent so I will be throwing everything at that.  Now whilst I will throw as much as possible, I won’t forget to add to my working capital savings, the little pot of money which will ensure I don’t have to rely upon my credit card when the unexpected happens, i.e. the bed breaks J and I can get off the merry go round of getting into debt whenever a big bill either planned or unplanned drops on the doormat.

Reflectiing upon the first 6 months ..... I have survived, I haven’t bought any new clothes; apart from my 40th birthday (and most of that was courtesy of Tesco clubcard vouchers) we haven’t eaten out; there has been no weekends away, no expensive day trips; I haven’t shopped for anything that hasn’t been an absolute necessity, always asking the same question whenever I consider a purchase do I want it or do I need it – if it falls in the former it remains in the shop. 

I have made do and mend and I have fallen back in love with baking, we have eaten incredibly well whilst reducing the grocery bill by 2/3rds, we have enjoyed such simple pleasures, walk on the beach, browsing for a new book in the library, watching an old movie curled up on the sofa, gardening and crafts and I honestly feel richer for it.  So its more than I've survived the past 6 months I honestly think its been one of the most liberating experiences of my life.

So here’s to the next 6 months, I hope to continue to learn and I thank the other frugal bloggers and you my dear followers for your inspiration and ideas, as I continue my journey to financial freedom – Happy Days

                                               

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Where did it go?

This is a usual question on a Sunday evening, where did it go?  It, of course, being the weekend, which seems to have disappeared in a haze of hospital visiting, cleaning, cooking, washing, ironing, shopping and entertaining.  Today being Father’s Day mum and dad came for the day, they have just left and I am finally settling down at 6.30pm zapped of energy, trying the muster up the enthusiasm to get organized for the week ahead.   I think I need a weekend to recover from my weekends J
So with a full and busy work week ahead I need to get busy this evening to ensure we are ready.  Just starting hubby’s Couscous to ensure he has his lunches for each day, it’s a pain on a Sunday evening but making batch lunches saves a headache through the week.  Then checking the freezer and cupboards to ensure I have all our teas sorted for the week:
Weekly Menu
Breakfasts
Hubby - Weetabix, skimmed milk and Cranberry juice
Me – Porridge and Coffee

Lunches
Hubby- Couscous Salad, 2 apples, 2 bananas
Me – Soup and granary bread

Dinners
Monday               Chilli Con Carne* and Rice
Tuesday               Pea and Ham soup* and bread
Wednesday        Pasta Amatriciana*
Thursday             Scrambled egg on Toast
Friday                    Curry* and Naan Bread
Saturday              Homemade Pizza
Sunday                 Steak pie*, veg

*All homemade but courtesy of batch cooking and the freezer, ensuring we have nourishing, homemade but quick to prepare evening meals J


Friday, 15 June 2012

Banking, Beds and Bartering

Now I wholly agree with most sound financial advice in that it is madness to have savings while you are in debt, you should throw everything at your debts to clear them, as paying interest is quite literally throwing your money away.  However it is important to plan and bank some working capital, this is money put aside for big annual bills as well as a contingency fund to pay for the unexpected.  Today we had to pay for the unexpected.
On Wednesday I broke our bed, now I say I broke, obviously this is our marital bed which gets equal amount of usage plus a doggy who normally sleeps at the bottom,  the fact is the bed broke but as it was on my side of the bed, it has been agreed I broke it J.  A comfortable bed is an absolute necessity in my world and we decided to take the opportunity to upgrade from a king size bed to a super king size bed (divan with a quality pocket sprung mattress).
Now it pays to do your homework, I checked out all the main bed company sites, plus wholesalers and for a quality super king with a good mattress we were looking at around £1200 yikes.  On checking out the deals on Bensons for Beds I found a bed in the “sale” (I am always dubious about so called sales) for £799.99 which seemed perfect.

On checking the small print they charge £39.99 for delivery, some companies do offer free delivery but again I always believe nothing in this life is free and they just add that cost onto the goods.  For example Dreams offer free delivery but the nearest bed for spec / quality that I could find was £400 more expensive so they can keep their free delivery.  So we were anticipating paying £840 inclusive for the bed. 
We decided to pop along to our nearest showroom to test the bed out to make sure it was right for us and the price in store was £840.99 plus delivery on top so £880.  This is where it pays to do your homework, when I pointed out the online price the sales assistant immediately said they would honour that (too right) now down to this delivery charge.  I am married to a husband who believes there is always a deal to be done and a haggle is to be had.  Needless to say we left the showroom with a bed, to be delivered in 12 days with a mattress protector and 4 pillows for £800 all in.  Best of all it wasn’t put on the credit card (like days of old) and sinking us ever further in debt, it was paid for in cash from our working capital fund.  That will ensure I sleep like a baby J 

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Crafty Moments

I am still trying to get back to normal (well as normal as I ever am) however still not quite back to my usual organised self.  After a long day at work, got home and made tea (on tonights menu was pasta amatriciana homemade sauce from the freezer heated through and just had to cook some pasta, easy peasy J) The realisation dawned that tomorrow is the last posting day to ensure that hubbys dad would receive his fathers day card on time.  Normally I look forward to my card making sessions but this was literally grabbing a few crafty moments to quickly make his card.



Whilst I was there I quickly made a card for hubby from DD our Cavachon – I know sad but it makes us happy cxx

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Not the C word again!

First of all thank you so much for your kind messages, they meant a lot xx

Now regarding the C word - Yep I know I should be banned lol but you can’t say I didn’t warn you J Last night I was reviewing my gift spreadsheet, this is the spreadsheet where I record the stock inventory of my gift cupboard and I list all the people I need to buy for and try and match gift to person.  I also list what I need to buy or make, obviously as frugally as possible.
One of my favourite gifts to give are hampers (not just for Christmas) which can cost anything from £5 upwards.  The sum of their parts are far less than the final gift and I will share with you one of my tried and tested ones, my girls night in survival kit.  The great thing about this one is that you can tailor it for any age or interest.  The one I will be doing for my sister will contain the following
A magazine – now you can buy one or if you have a friend or colleague who does, you can recycle J so this can cost you anything from zero to about £3.99.  However for example woman magazine is £1.80 

A Bottle – again depends on your budget and the favourite tipple of your recipient for my sister I will put in a can of the made up Gin and Tonics that the supermarkets do which at Tesco’s are currently £1

Chocolate – large bar of favourite chocolate currently on sale £1
DVD – you can either recycle, check out poundland and home bargains – I have picked up sex and the city 2 for £2.99 – sister saw the first and loved it but never got around to seeing the sequel. 

Now as I say you can spend as little or as much as you want, if I had found a DVD at poundland this would have been well under a fiver, rather than £6.79. 
Another hamper could contain some bubble bath, a face pack, a candle, magazine and chocolate and again you can get it in for around the £5 mark dependent upon where you shop etc  

You can either put these in a pretty box, basket or gift bag (I keep all packaging and recycle) and as I say the total effect looks far more expensive than the sum of its parts.  I also attach a label with the following message – my feeble attempt at poetry, no copyright so please feel free to plagiarise J 

"In this parcel you will find
Some essential goodies to ease soul and mind
When you need to be pampered, need time to simply be
Dive into your girls night in survival kit, with lots of love from me xxx "

As I get towards Christmas and I start making up my hampers and I will take lots of photos to share. 


Monday, 11 June 2012

AWOL

Apologies that I have been missing, we have had a bit of a family emergency which has meant that every waking hour I have either been working or sitting by my brother’s bedside in intensive care, fitting in disjointed sleep and eating when I can.  Thankfully he has now been moved to a normal ward and whilst he has a long road ahead and predicted to be in hospital another 6 months, he is, thank the lord, on the road to recovery and life for me is starting to return to something slightly resembling normality.
When life throws a curve ball of this magnitude, best intentions and plans go out of the window.  One thing that frugality always needs is time, time to plan, time to be organized, time to do / make do rather than buy and sadly time has been an absolute luxury that for the past 4 weeks I simply haven’t had and time is something that I doubt I will ever take for granted again. 
I adore my brother and while he fought for his life, my time was the only thing I could give him, my time to hold his hand, my time to make sure he was never left alone, I would have never forgiven myself if the worst was to happen and he was alone, the very least I could do in the long hours when I felt helpless was just to be there.
So the remainder of May /beginning of June was not frugal, the daily £3 car parking charges and the extra petrol, coupled with the grab and go easy meals, from grabbing sandwiches on the go to grabbing a ready meal/ takeaway to nourish the body have taken their financial toll.  I have to say also that I feel like crap, partly I’m sure due to lack of sleep and I am just getting my body clock on an even keel again, but huge part to not eating  properly, relying on expensive, additive ridden, processed food, my body has been craving my homemade cooking. 
Yesterday I made a batch of homemade pea and ham soup which is on the menu for tonight’s tea and I know will taste like absolute heaven.  I had to press the pause button on my frugal life but oh so glad for oh so many reasons that I can now press the play button again J