5 Things That Are Helping Me Get My Life Together | Number 1 Automated Savings.

As much as I crave at times a simpler, slower way of life (and often have to take myself off for hours for long walks, away from noise and crowds, so there is time to think and truly enjoy my surroundings without being disturbed) I’m also a lover of modern technology and am genuinely excited about new ways to do things all from my phone.

I’m a member of a number of ‘frugal living and money saving’ type groups. I look to these for inspiration and for new ideas on how to spend less and save more. I’ve never been in a safe place financially for most of my grown-up life, but I’ve worked really hard in changing that around the last 18 months or so and am at a stage where I feel a lot safer than I’ve ever done before. Am a big believer in a rainy day fund and food and basic necessity stockpiles! Call me a bit of a prepper if you like! Being prepared alleviates so much stress from my life that I really want to share with you the 5 things that are really helping me move towards my goal…

Number 1. Automated savings

Automated savings have been the single most successful thing I’ve done to start changing my life around so I’m going to talk about them first. By having money deducted from my wages it takes away the money I have available to spend and focuses me on changing my spending habits.. Numbers 2-5 (to be discussed in future blog posts) are the things I do to ensure I can survive on my income after I’ve put money into savings every month.

a) TransaveUK: I can’t recommend automated savings enough. It’s incredibly hard to stay disciplined enough to move money from one account to another and leave it alone so 18 months ago I started my first foray into automated savings through my workplace with a credit union called http://www.transaveuk.co.uk. My workplace works with TransaveUK to offer employee’s small loans to buy company shares (we are a 100% employee owned company at PMS Diecasting where I work). But via our payroll we also have an automated Christmas Club savings scheme and the option of also having an additional savings account. I opted for automated savings from my monthly paycheck into my ‘Christmas Club’ savings account AND into a regular savings account. Basically this money goes straight into savings and NEVER hits my normal bank account. For me it’s much easier to make do and go without if it isn’t there to spend than have it sitting there instantly accessible. YES it’s a struggle every month to do without a lot of things but every month I feel safer financially.

b) PLUM automated savings: Via Facebook for Android and via an app for iPhone is something I’ve signed up to recently. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO. PLUM analyses your regular bank account and through artificial intelligence makes choices for you to save small amounts of money throughout the month where it feels you can afford it (you can decline – it always asks you). Additionally it now has introduced an option to round up all your transactions to save even more small amounts of money. For instance a purchase of £5.79 would be rounded up to £6 and the 21p deposited in either your PLUM savings account or straight into your investment accounts if you decide to set these up. And that IS something I’ve done. I’ve deposited £200 in a Stocks and Shares ISA via the Facebook app, 1/2 in a balanced fund and 1/2 in a growth fund. I’m just curious to see if there are alternative ways to build small amounts of wealth. TO BE HONEST I’M SCARED ABOUT RETIRING DUE TO LACK OF PENSION!

In parts 2-5 I will talk about the things I do every month to get by on my income after I’ve put aside my savings.

C xxxxx

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Potato Salad with Dutch Sauce – Recipe No. 179

I’ve been really craving potatoes today, especially a potato salad.

Curious as to what (during rationing in WW2) people slathered their spuds in, I delved into ‘Feeding the Nation’ by Marguerite Patten OBE. Heinz Salad Cream became a wartime favourite like any convenience food was often in limited supply so many of the ration book recipes called for making homemade dressings which tried to replicate salad cream or mayonnaise.

Quite frankly they were all quite bland but palatable nevertheless especially if a spoonful of salad cream was added to the mixture to give it a boost.

I used the below recipe for ‘Dutch Sauce’, I halved the quantities and still made enough sauce for a large potato salad for 3 or 4. I also added in a spoonful of salad cream afterwards and despite my best efforts at spicing it up in a way I thought might be authentic, it was still rather bland. The chopped spring onions, chopped chives sprinkled over the top and extra salt and pepper helped.

Potato Salad
Boil lb. potatoes in their skins. Peel and cut into chunks (I left skins on). Add a little chopped onion (I used spring onion). While warm bind together with salad dressing. When cold, sprinkle with parsley (hate parsley so used chives from the garden instead).

Dutch Sauce (salad dressing – I halved these ingredients)
3 oz flour
1 pint of milk or fish stock (I used oat milk)
3 teaspoons dried mustard
1 egg (optional)
3 to 4 tablespoons of vinegar
salt and pepper

Method
Blend the flour with a little of the milk or fish stock.
When smooth add the rest of the liquid and bring to the boil.
Cook for 2 or 3 minutes stirring all the time.
Mix the mustard, salt and pepper with the egg and add to the sauce.
Stir over a gentle heat but do not let the sauce boil again.
Add the vinegar. Stir well and serve (the egg in this recipe is optional)

You can use this sauce as mayonnaise if fish stock isn’t used.

I let the sauce cool down and the potatoes cool down so they were only slightly warm then mixed the potatoes with the sauce as well as the chopped spring onion and chopped chives over the top then refrigerated.

Green Mint Sauce – Recipe No. 178

Mint is growing abundantly in a pot in my side garden.

I decided today I needed to put it to good use so found an old wartime recipe for ‘Green Mint Sauce’ from a book called ‘Good Eating – Suggestions for Wartime Recipes’. All recipes in the book have been submitted by Daily Telegraph readers during WW2.

I only wanted a small pot full so took the recipe below and quartered the ingredients which roughly came up as 100 g of chopped mint, 100 g of sugar and 200 ml or vinegar (I used 1/2 apple cider vinegar and 1/2 malt vinegar).

This returned a sweet, minty, sauce with a hint of apple. I’m using it sparingly on everything this afternoon and intend to use it later on my peas and roast potato at dinner time!

Green Mint Sauce
1/4 lb chopped mint (I used 100 g)
3/4 pt vinegar (I used 100 ml apple cider vinegar and 100 ml malt vinegar)
1/2 lb sugar (I used 100 g)

Method
Boil vinegar and and pour it over the sugar in a saucepan and stir until dissolved
When cooled add chopped mint and stir
Add to clean jar, will keep in fridge for several months

Apple and Rhubarb Crumble – Recipe No. 177

Just the other day I was offered some rhubarb out of the boot of a work colleagues car.

For anyone that knows me, if it’s free I’ll make use of it and enjoy it even more knowing that it’s cost me nothing. It’s the mend and make-do philosophy innately ingrained in my psyche. In this case the immediate thought of mouth watering apple and rhubarb crumble with custard that entered my head as soon as my work colleague opened the boot of his car to display his mountain of rhubarb, absolutely solidified this transaction and if he had, at that moment changed his mind, there is no doubt that I would have grabbed an armful and made a run for it.

Today I made the crumble. I made a portion for everyone, I even made a small dish for my work colleague.

It’s been forever since I’ve baked a proper British pudding and every spoonful that entered my mouth was accompanied by sounds of wanton desire that were slightly obscene. There is something wrong with a pudding if it’s consumer doesn’t groan a little…

Here is the authentic WW2 recipe. Enjoy and groan a little yourself…

Apple and Rhubarb Crumble

Filling:
1 lb rhubarb
1 lb tasty apples
2 tablespoons of golden syrup or 2 oz sugar

Topping:
7 oz plain flour
3 oz oats
3 oz margarine or butter
3 oz sugar for topping
1 oz of light brown sugar to sprinkle on top
pinch of salt

Method:
Wipe the rhubarb and cut into small pieces. Simmer in a saucepan with 1 tablespoon of water for about 10 minutes until cooked.
Slice the apples into small pieces. Simmer in a saucepan with 1 tablespoon of water for about 5 minutes until cooked.
Mix rhubarb and apple together when cooked and mix in the golden syrup or sugar.
Grease a pie tin and spoon in the mixture.
Place plain flour, pinch of salt, 3 oz sugar and 3 oz of butter or margarine (in small pieces) into a bowl together.
Rub between fingers to create a breadcrumb like mixture and spoon over the top of the stewed fruit thickly.
Sprinkle with the brown sugar.
Place in an oven at around 170 C for 20 minutes until golden brown.

Serves 6.
Serve with custard.

And as well as eating apple and rhubarb crumble for my dinner I also took some photographs from my garden this afternoon. I picked some of the herbs I grew last year and took photos of the most beautiful dragonfly (I’ve been told its a Migrant Hawker)…it was too beautiful not to share.

PS: It’s good to be back…