5 small changes I’m making to save over £1000 this year..

It hasn’t been easy saying NO. Every trip to the supermarket is quite a challenge when having to stick to a very small shopping list. Gone are the days when I’d get a trolley full and spend £75! Today my weekly shop came to £10.44.

Yesterday I popped out to ‘Wetherspoons’ in Maltby for a slice of delicious vanilla cheesecake with a fruit compote, coffee and a chinwag with my friend Liz. The dessert was delicious as was the free refill fresh black coffee, it was a real treat and yet still within my weekly budget (only about £4!)

The great news for me was that at the end of the day when I did my spending calculations and counted the money in my purse, I had underspent for the 6th week in a row and was able to put £8.33 into my cash emergency/savings jar making a grand total of £116.03p!

Tonight is going to be a challenge, my weekly household/entertainment budget will be truly stretched as 18 of us ladies are attending a ladies night event at Carlton Park Hotel. But I’m on a roll and I know my £15 weekly budget will suffice! I’m determined!

So what have I been doing to save the pennies (so the pounds look after themselves!)

You may have read in some of my past posts about some of the smaller changes I am making that add up to quite a bit at the end of the year…. here are some of them.

  •  I am using an EcoEgg detergent free laundry egg with great success! So far I have been really pleased and its doing its job! I do use a stain remover spray which I already had, for anything that is heavily stained. The EcoEgg saves me £57.39 p per year – here is the review I wrote about it.
  •  I am using a Crystal Deodorant Mineral Stone rather than my normal roll-on deodorant saving me £33.50 a year (it pays itself back after the first couple of months). This works really well, there is a knack to applying it. Run the stone under the tap for a second, shake it to remove excess water, apply to under your arm rubbing back and forth like you would a normal roll on but instead rub it back and forth about 20 times covering all areas of the armpit. Repeat the process on the other side. I’ve not had a smelly pit yet!
  • I’ve switched my mobile phone Giff Gaff Goody Bag from £20 a month to £10 a month saving myself £120 per year.
  • I cancelled my Platinum level Natwest Account and moved to their FREE bank account. I was paying £17 per month with the Platinum Account. The benefit I lost was roadside assistance/breakdown so I signed up to GreenFlag at £5.75 per month. This works out as saving £135 a year!

Just these 4 changes alone will be saving me £345.89 this year!

A BIG EXPENSE I was prepared for..

My 19 year old car went in for it’s MOT on Monday. I knew if she was to get through her MOT it would end up being expensive as she has been suffering with corrosion. The last four months I have been putting at least £100 a month into a sinking fund for my car. Infact the amount of money I had put aside was £480.03 (not sure why there was a 3p but there was!). Poppy needed nearly £300 worth of repair/welding, she failed her emissions so the engine needed treating, her front drivers tyre needed replacing, the headlights needed adjusting and the wiper blades needed changing. To save money with the repair/welding I had the treated wheel arches hand painted with black instead of rubbed down and resprayed. In total, including the fee for the test, the bill came to £480.

My car is worth about £400, I could probably do without her at a push as I live just 2.5 miles away from work but I do have other responsibilities that take me further away. So I had the work done. It was difficult to lose all that hard earned and saved £480 in one go but I reminded myself that I had saved for this eventuality and imagine what a pickle I would be in if I hadn’t started saving! Despite the big bill It also felt good that I was able to pay for it without worrying how I was going to find the money for it!

I’m happy I have my car back. I’ll continue putting money into a car sinking fund every month as I fear that next February it will be time to find myself another car.

Finally…

So looking at the 4 small changes I’ve made above AND the amount I am underspending every week by sticking to my shopping list and planning ahead I’ve worked out that this will save me over £1000 this year!

What changes are you making to save money, get out of debt and put some money away for a rainy day?

C xxx

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Budgeting with Google Spreadsheets

So I’m rapidly becoming all consumed with getting my shit together (sorry for the profanity but sh*t says it all…).

Today I’ve spent the best part of 3 hours familiarizing myself with ‘Google Spreadsheets’ for monthly budgeting. Although I love scribbling on paper and in my daily diary, I have to say after pulling my hair out initially, I now LOVE using this spreadsheet! The one I’m using is ‘Monthly Budget’ under the top right hand drop down menu for ‘Templates’. OK so I know in the 1940’s it would have all been done on paper, and I love to keep things simple BUT having this in addition to fill in and update at weekends is making me VERY HAPPY!

OK, I know you are probably thinking right now “for God’s sake woman, go and get a curvy, hairy, beardy man and misbehave” because quite frankly it is a little bit sad that I am getting so excited about  spreadsheets. Trust me, I’ve been thinking that myself recently…..

Infact I know exactly the man I’d pick (in Barnsley) but I’m still slightly “off” men in real-life and not quite ready to jump back in the sheets and do strange and wonderful things…soooooo for now ‘Google Spreadsheets’ it is!

I’m loving the ‘Monthly Budget’ template. CLICK HERE

First of all I worked out how to change the currency from $ to £, next to add extra rows while keeping the formula which does the calculations, I also then changed the spreadsheet to specify what country and time zone. Once that was all done then it was time to fill it in!

I’m filling it in real-time, once a week. This means that I’m adding in all my planned expenses and income and adding in the actual expenses and income as they come in. So when a direct debit comes out in the week I’ll update the spreadsheet, when my son pays me his weekly rent/bills contribution I’ll fill it in on the spreadsheet. By doing this it gives me a real-time up to date tally….isn’t that cool!

Even cooler is the fact that the template comes with a ‘Transaction’ ledger so when you fill it in on the ledger it updates the spreadsheet automatically!

So I’ve brought my February 2018 budget up to-date on my spreadsheet and I’ve taken a snap-shot and it’s below..

I’m hoping budgeting provides enough excitement for me in the coming months to keep me on the straight and narrow until the call of the curvy, hairy, beardy bloke becomes too much to resist….

C xxxxxx

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PS: I was asked about changing the currency settings on the Google Spreadsheet – here is what you have to do

1) Go to https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets and select Monthly Budget from the template gallery.
2) Open up the sheet and select from the top drop down menu FILE > SPREADSHEET SETTINGS > ADJUST LOCALE/TIMEZONE > SAVE SETTINGS… return to main spread sheet.
3) You will notice that the currency symbol underneath the word format in the top drop down menu has now changed to a £ sign. If the sheet does not automatically change the symbols you will simply have to highlight the cell/cells you want to change the currency symbol in, once highlighted you click on the £ currency symbol from the top of the page and it will change all the $ to £ in the cells you have highlighted.
4) To highlight a cell you simply click once in the box then go and click on the £ symbol. To highlight multiple cells in a row then click on the top cell ie Food then hold down the shift button and select the bottom cell ie category 1 and all the cells inbetween will be highlighted too – then just click the £ symbol to change all of them. Alternatively to highlight several sporadically located cells click on 1 cell, hold down the CTRL key and select another anywhere on the page, keep the CTRL key depressed until you have finished selecting all the ones you want to change then goto the £ symbol and select.

I have changed currency and timezones on a spreadsheet for you. You’ll need to make sure that when you are logged in and save it that it is only viewable by yourself.

CLICK HERE FOR £ CURRENCY MONTHLY BUDGET SPREADSHEET

5p burger plant-based alternative to mince meat?

So at lunch I was experimenting in the kitchen. I wanted to come up with something I could make up and keep in the fridge for a few days to use in recipes as an alternative to animal mince meat. I looked at a few recipes on the web and decided to make my own only using simple, frugal wholefood ingredients that would have been around on the home front on a good shopping day!

To be honest I wasn’t expecting much with my first attempt but this came out incredibly well. Obviously it’s not a WW2 ration book recipe but I really had to share this because it is very healthy and VERY frugal.

I didn’t have my camera with me just my phone to take a snap shot but hope you can still see that the burger looked quite delicious!

Cost: The mixture makes 6 large burgers (or more smaller ones) and based on 6 big burgers the cost is about 5p per burger without mushrooms or about 13p per burger with mushrooms.

Calories: Each burger is about 150 cals and about 10g of protein and over 10% of daily iron requirement and 25% of daily fibre…high in potassium too!

Plant Burgers

  • 1 cup dry lentils (I used red split lentils but any will do)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped (you could use garlic salt or powder)
  • 1 small onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 oz brown mushrooms, quartered
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats (not instant)
  • 1 or 2 teaspoon dried sage (depending on how much you like it)
  • ½ teaspoon dried rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon mild chilli powder
  • 3 rounded teaspoons of sweet chutney
  • Few shakes of ground black pepper

Method

  1. Wash the lentils then place in a saucepan with the two cups of water, the chopped garlic and onion, ½ the salt, the chilli powder, sage and rosemary. Simmer for 20-30 minutes until tender.
  2. Meanwhile in a food processer, put in the mushrooms and pulse 4 or 5 times for just a second or two until finely chopped, add in the oats, chutney and the rest of the salt. Set aside.
  3. Drain the lentil mixture then add to the food processor and pulse again several times for a couple of seconds until a thick coarse paste is formed.
  4. Remove mixture and form into burgers. Will make six large thick burgers or 8-10 smaller ones.
  5. Fry on medium in a pan with a little olive oil until nicely browned on the outside.

How did January’s budget go?

For anyone that pops in to read my blog now and again, you’ll know that I set a goal to take control of my life economically in 2018 by living like our grandmothers did (no debt, save money for a rainy day and only buy something if you really need it otherwise mend and make do!).

I guess reaching the age of 52 in January, being in debt and having no savings (I’ve been through several very tough years) has made me panic. I want to be in control of my life, feel financially safe and feel proud of how I live. Being single I do not have a back-up if things go wrong.

I started planning for this year early on in 2017. I’ve always had to live quite frugally to make ends meet as I was spending between £250-£300 per month just commuting from Nottingham to Rotherham 5 days a week for my job. We made plans that when my youngest daughter left college we would move to a cheaper house that would be near my work place (so if my car ever broke down and I had to do without, I could walk). We found a smaller house with a little garden just 2 miles from my job. We had to snap it up because it was ideal and managed to negotiate the first months rent free with the landlord but this still meant we had a couple of months double rent to pay while we waited for my daughter to finish college. But it’s been worth it.

With all the extra expenses of moving and paying double rent (luckily my eldest daughter helped out) it took many months to catch up and get on top of things again but we got there and I’d still managed to put money by in a Christmas Savings Club and started to save an emergency fund.

So January has been all about being getting to grips with actually creating a written budget and sticking to it. My monthly budget runs from pay-day to pay-day (last Friday of every month) and although it has needed some effort, the written budget has REALLY helped me get things in order. This month I’ve paid all my bills, put money away in savings/emergency fund, put money away in my sinking funds and PAID OFF TWO DEBTS!!!!

It has been TOUGH though….I’ve not eaten out or bought anything from my cash food/household budget except for food and toilet paper. Every time I go into a supermarket I have to remind myself to “STICK TO MY LIST” and absolutely ONLY buy something if I NEED it! BUT by the end of the month I have underspent by £80.70p and I now have that sitting in my cash jar, an extra bit of safety. As a single person I don’t have a back-up!!!

And today I’ve completed February’s budget. Every £ is accounted for and I’m ready for another monthly challenge of working towards being debt free and having a proper rainy day fund just like our Grandmothers used to!

C xxxx

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Pantry Makeover – Part 1 + FREE Food Storage Labels.

So opening the door of my old under the stairs pantry this morning it was beginning to look like an episode of ‘hoarders’ so decided my goal today was to deal with it ASAP before it all got out of hand. To get it ship shape and an area I could use for food storage was important to assist in my drive to get my life, finances, diet and future in order. To tackle life one chore at a time….

So I’ve pulled everything out, recycled lots, threw away quite a bit, relocated some of the items I really needed to keep and labelled up my food storage buckets so it no longer is a guessing game in what buckets contain flour or pulses. I even found some Union Jack bunting in the back of the pantry so used some of that to add a bit of nostalgia.

This is just the first tidy through and I have plans to utilise the space more but thought you’d like to see what I’ve been up to. It’s definitely doing my brain good to tackle chores full on instead of putting them off…it’s quite satisfying. Yes it was 4 hours of my life to sort it all out but now I’m going to smile when I open the door instead of get frustrated and feel awful about it.

One more chore today, balance my budget book!

C xxxx


FREE LABELS!

PS: I downloaded FREE LABELS from HERE for my food storage buckets and stuck them on with a glue stick. I changed the font as you can see below but the labels also come with writing on so you can just print and stick.

End of Week 3 Cash Budget – This Week Was Difficult!

So week 3 cash budget comes to an end tomorrow so I’ve just sat down tonight and gone through the figures and after a very difficult week to stay within budget I’m happy to have made it through with still £3.12 left over to put in my cash savings jar!

This is my very first month of pretty much EVER doing a monthly budget where every single £ is accounted for. It’s not easy but I am so determined to change my life around economically in 2018 that accounting for every £ spent will be absolutely necessary to rid myself of past bad habits.

The reason this week was such a rollercoaster white knuckle ride financially was that £50 of my £57.50 weekly cash budget for food, car/petrol and household (entertainment, clothing, toiletries, other etc) was spent on petrol as I did a 500 mile round trip to move my daughter out of the University of Reading. The only other expense this week was £4.38 on food. I’m glad reset day is tomorrow and Week 4’s budget kicks in….phew!

That’s £59.22 I’ve saved in 3 weeks out of my weekly cash budget in addition to the £300 savings I had sent to TransaveUK Credit Union from payroll when I got paid! (but I’ve given up absolutely EVERYTHING to achieve that!!!!)

I’m pretty proud of myself for sticking with it! I can’t actually believe it!!!

As for eating healthily I don’t want to jinx it but for some reason the more I am taking control of my money the more I seem to be taking control of my eating. Is it because psychologically I’m feeling happier making positive changes and anxiety about money has had me comforting myself with food? Who knows! It’s just a theory right now and I’m going to see what happens.

Currently I’m eating well and eating somewhere between 1500-2000 calories a day with lots of vegetables and pulses/beans.

Today I had porridge oats for breakfast, a large leafy salad and 300g drained weight of kidney beans and some dressing for lunch, for dinner I had soup and bread and afterwards a single eggless pancake drizzled with a little golden syrup. If I’m still hungry tonight I will saute some white cabbage in a pan with some herbs and spices.

I hope everyone is doing well with their budgets. I’m rather liking this “make do and mend” malarky!

C xxxxx

Food and budget this week so far…

It’s two days now that I’ve been on track and haven’t succumbed to the devilish temptation of crap food! I’m using up food that I have in my larder that is on or coming up to it’s expiry date so for the last few days I seem to have eaten a LOT of rice crackers! I’m relieved that they have now gone…. There has been lots of healthy wholefoods though such as red split lentils, kidney beans, chickpeas and lots of vegetables from my small Riverford Organic Veggie Box (I’ve downsized to the small box every week to help with my budgeting)

Food-wise this week I’ve been eating oats for breakfast with some apple in it and a teaspoon of jam. Lunches have been rice crackers topped with raw veggies and salad and main dinner has been lentil and chard stew and then I made a really nice chickpea and swiss chard curry. I have plenty of potatoes to till use up and a butternut squash so these will be on the menu tomorrow night!

Budget-wise this week I’ve had to be EXTREMELY careful. I’ve had to do a round trip of almost 500 miles to move my daughter out of Uni and the petrol cost was £65 (gulp!!!). I put in £25 on Friday (out of last weeks budget) and then used £40 out of this weeks cash budget of £57.50 (which is £25 for food, £12.50 for petrol/car and £20 for entertainment/clothing/toiletries/toilet rolls etc) on Saturday to get us over to the University and finally back home again.

Luckily the only money I have spent out of my cash budget on food and household this week is £3. Tomorrow I will have to put £5 petrol in the car too. If my maths is correct I make that £9.50 left this week. I am determined to not spend anymore so I can add that £9.50 to my savings jar.

I’m really enjoying being so disciplined as it ‘is’ to achieve a goal but I’d be a liar if I said it was easy this week….it hasn’t been. It’s been tough.

The hardest thing is going shopping in the supermarket. Normally I will shop from a list but always add in extras that I fancy. Now I’m literally sticking rigidly to a prepared list and absolutely ONLY BUYING WHAT I NEED AND NOT WHAT I WANT!!!

It’s working though… but I’m not out of the woods yet. There are 4 birthdays this month (I’ve put my thinking cap on!).

C xxxxxx