Thursday, 31 January 2013

Totting Up January

And how we did was quite shocking. We took to spending like rabbits to destroying carpet. I've mentioned it a few times already but December and January have been different to all the previous months for years. We just did what we wanted. If we wanted to go out then we did, if we wanted to shop, we shopped, if we wanted to watch the footie at the pub then that's where we went. So I shouldn't be all that surprised at how much money we burned through. 

But totting it up on Monday I discovered that including the £10 per weekend we have as safety value fun money we spent as much on food and drinks as we have for the grocery budget. Luckily it's out of our system. The menu plan states "out" for two of the first three days of February but one day will be takeaway paid for by someone else for DH's birthday (probably a chip butty) and the other "out" is out trip to Nottingham for DH's birthday. I think we're going to take a picnic then maybe just have a little something while we're out. Maybe a cuppa or a slice of cake but I don't think we'll have a full meal. We have pizza in the freezer if we still fancy something when we get home. Anyway, is it's still windy and wet we might stay closer to home, I never fail to be entertained by sea foam.

Savings, target + 10%
Grocery budget, under by a few pence *yay*

I'm hoping to be closer to target + 50% in February but you never can tell. The rate at which bits of the garage roof are landing on the drive anything could happen and probably will!

Tuesday, 29 January 2013


It's amazing how quickly "new" becomes "normal". I knew there was something I'd missed from my birthday list but couldn't for the life of me think what it was. Then this morning as I was sweeping the living area it hit me - a jute rug! I only bought the rug last week (at a bargain price) after being on the lookout for one for months. After only seven days I'm already taking it for granted, even though it does look lovely and my feet are far warmer. 

If I can forget about something I'd wanted for ages even when it's staring me in the face it makes me appreciate how easy it is to make an impulse purchase then let it hide in a cupboard unused. 

Monday, 28 January 2013

February Menu Plan

DH was the main author of this month's menu plan, so let's see how it goes! It is what it is, I don't give things exciting names to make them sound more exotic than they are and have a basic formula. the most obvious part of that is Friday night curry. This is only our third month of doing a monthly rather than weekly plan but it seems to work better for us than weekly. 

Week One

1. out
2. gnocci

Week Two

3. out
4. lentil bol
5. mini roast
6. chilli (freezer)
7. pasties w. wedges
8. curry
9. pizza

Week Three 

10. beans on toast (rugby)
11. rendang curry w. tofu
12. shepherdess pie
13. shepherdess pie
14. pasta bake w. garlic bread
15. curry
16. beanburgers

Week Four

17. haggis
18. leek and butterbean stew w. fried haggis
19. risotto
20. thanksgiving pot pie
21. tacos
22. curry
23. ciabatta pizza

Week Five

24. roast
25. rendang curry
26. mustardy veg and bean cobbler
27. jambalaya
28. enchiladas

Sunday, 27 January 2013


We have lived the life of Riley this month, birthday, 10th wedding anniversary, general jollity and it has been fun. Costly fun. I can't say it hasn't been worth it though as we've had such a great time and it's been a really relaxing start to the year.

For the past 8 or 9 years our Christmas and birthday cash has been used for sensible things like clothes, things we need for the house, new tyres or whatever. This year we haven't done that. We bought each other Christmas gifts for the first time ever (£75 budget) and it was a really enjoyable thing. I don't know if we'll do that again for 2013 but it was the right thing to do for 2012.

I spent the last of my gift money this weekend. Maybe I didn't stretch it as far as I could but it has been wonderful to take a year off from making gifts work hard to allowing gifts to be massive treats. Having said that I have 5 new tea towels, a light pull for the bathroom and two new soap dispensers so maybe not all flim flam.

the list - 

2 x soap dispensers £1.98
light pull £1.49
gravy boat £8.50
Hornsea pot with an apple on it £4.95
bracelet £8.95
3 x tea towels and a pair of socks - £15 M&S voucher
woolly hat and grey cardi - £15 Debenhams voucher
ceramic rabbit and ceramic seed head £37.95
mittens £8 
Moomin book £10
cosmetics £7
glittery vest £12.50
dress £4.19
quilting fabric £35.50 (yes, I know!)

DH bought me 2 tea towels from the RSPB shop, a glittery lipbalm, a dvd (a bargain at 99p) and some orange socks for my birthday. Not too shabby. I received bonus gifts from MIL in the shape of a cosmetics set she got as a free gift with some perfume and a jumper that she bought but didn't like but didn't want to return. Good news for me!

The menu plan for next month is done and we're just totting up how we did with the budget for January... 

Saturday, 26 January 2013

On The Beach

Went for a stroll to watch dogs and people with kites on the beach and saw a Jewson bag full of sand right next to the dunes. It made me laugh anyway. 

Friday, 25 January 2013

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Peace and Quiet

For the fifth or sixth time I deactivated my Twitter account. I did the same with facebook last week, it is so peaceful.

I started to think about how I'd removed facebook first even though it's full of people I really know but kept the other thing. Lots of people complain about the ads on facebook but twitter is just as bad, everything is an ad there, it's just that they're all links to things I like rather than for all manner of things whether I'm interested or not. So I suppose it's a bit of snootiness to say that you're on the more cool one rather than the one your mum's on. But it's all the same thing. 

One of my mates said that facebook is the face you have to put out to the world whereas t'other one is the face you want to put out. That's the interesting thing to me, why does there have to be a difference? If we want to be who we are then why would we compromise in something that's meant to be our own space? It's the same with blogs, there seems to be a thing where people have to refer to certain things because not commenting on them automatically makes people think you must be anti-whatever it is. We all know that it's not how life works that if I don't post something as my status for an hour that it must mean I think cancer is a great thing or that puppies should be told off. It's nonsense, but it's also really interesting. Maybe it's just back to the same old thing that it's more interesting to think about the questions that aren't asked and what isn't being said as well as what is. 

I didn't intend to talk about that as it's been done to death, but no-ones reading this other than me so it doesn't matter anyway. It was meant to be about peace and how we/I divide things up. I fast forward adverts on tv, don't buy magazines and all the usual stuff to avoid advertising but then welcome it onto my various screens because it's knitted or drip fed in a friendly way from shops and services I use. I know we all make up the rules to our lives and we're riddled with inconsistency and I find it fun, ignoring the inconvenient truths, rationale thinking and editing to make ourselves look great, it makes us look so silly and that's part of the enjoyment of everything.

I enjoy noticing when I'm being marketed to, it's also fun to notice when I'm very much not the target audience. Recently I've started to notice that I don't "get" things that are for younger people and I love that! That stuff isn't for me, in the same way that my parents didn't get why I thought low-fi was good. It's comforting to see that things carry on and patterns repeat themselves.

And now, porridge.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

What To Wear

For about 10 years I worked in various charity shops, both paid as a manager then later as a volunteer. Obviously the temptation is huge, every day bags and boxes came through the door and the game of nice or nasty roulette began. I had to make a very deliberate decision to only buy something that I'd never see again or was in such amazing condition that it would be crazy not to buy. So I'd have my eye on something and hold my breath as it sat in the shop for at least one day before I could buy it. Sometimes I missed out sometimes the item was still there so I could go for it. 

I loved my charity shop bargains, friends would always ask me about where I'd bought things and I'd be happy to tell them all about how great charity shops are and I thought that was that. So I was pretty surprised when I did a wardrobe audit last year. My wardrobe in the new house (I say new, we've been here for two years) is tiny compared to the huge bank of wardrobes we had in the old house. I set about creating my capsule and was shocked to see that all the stuff on the "donate" pile was the stuff I'd bought at the charity shop. Now I was out of the charity environment, or maybe because we were in  a new place and I wanted a new look who can say but of the bags of things that went out the majority of it was either bought in a sale or from the charity shop.

I kept 3 items - a wool coat I bought for £1, a new stripy Gap scarf that the manager gave me as it was going into the rag pen and a Betty Barclay skirt. The jeans, the jumpers, the tops, the bags and the beads all went back to where they came from. It was a lesson for me.

I wasn't aiming to do Project 333 but it just ended up that way. I now own 48 items of clothing not including coats and shoes so it turns out I only wear around that amount each season of the year. It makes things really simple, I always thought I was a maximalist but not having too much choice is great for me. It has been tested with this chilly weather and I'm impressed. I now have a deeper love of my leggings and snood. I love my snood for on the beach in the summer but in the winter it's great for keeping my neck warm and adds a bit of colour. Leggings are genius - with a tunic, dress or skirt, I can even wear my thermals underneath and you can't tell - far better than tights for that! Polo neck jumpers with dresses or trousers. It just makes sense and it works for me which is the first time I can say that about my clothing.

This autumn I bought something from a charity shop for the first time for two years. WOW it was expensive! I had been spoilt for many years with bargain prices living in a deprived area and spoilt for getting a staff discount. That took the sting out of the £25 I paid for my new winter coat. With the recent weather would I have paid £50, almost certainly.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

the safety net

The goal for this year is to bulk up the Emergency Fund, as I thought I'd better mention something about money saving. We have a basic aim which will just happen - we became debt free for the second time (don't tell Dave Ramsey) last year so the money we were using to pay off the debt is being redirected to savings. Then we have an additional aim to save 80% of that again just from day to day savings.

We're not car boot folk, we don't have enough belongings to sell any really, I have never been on ebay so the savings will be from not spending rather than earning. As I've said we've been through the initial student loan-credit card-car loan debt free frenzy where we sold things, took on work, cut to the bone. That's not where we are for the time being and hopefully never again. We turned our finances around by paying off the debt, overpaying/ reducing the term on the mortgage and switching to just wanting less. Well, maybe not wanting less but certainly buying the right things and just admiring other nice things. 

Doing that got us where we are today, by the seaside. Which is where the other debt came in. We'd been debt free for 3 1/2 years, saved up for and bought our shiny car (took 2 years) then we put the house on the market and waited. The area we lived in was good for the town, the neighbours, not that great so the house needed to be sold well. So when we were at that point where we thought no-one would ever buy we borrowed some money after much soul searching and had a new kitchen fitted. We spent too much really but we sold the house Am I rationale thinking this in order to make myself feel better, almost certainly but I don't care.

It meant we could move from one of the cheapest areas of the county to one for the more expensive. Paying down the mortgage over a few years meant we had a large deposit which took the sting out of the large price tag. Everything is more expensive here but we love it. For the first time we have a garden, we have big skies, peace and quiet and I have achieved my dream of living by the seaside.

That was spring 2010, then we had a General Election and the landscape changed. Now the EF needs to be bigger than ever for when the redundancy letters come round again if we're on the list. 

Monday, 21 January 2013

what i thought about on monday and intro

On reflection, the fantastic cupboard is still fantastic but it doesn't remove the wrapping paper curse. I used up all the wrapping paper I had over the festive time and didn't buy more in the sales. Breaking a number of my usual rules there - not buying in the sales, not having a stock of something, using more paper than I needed to just to get rid of it. I didn't cut cards up to make gift tags or new cards. It was great. Yes I'll have to pay a quid more for wrapping paper but on the other hand my feud with wrapping paper will be over.

I'm a normal person, not a super-frugal, black belt, frugaller than thou frugalista type. I don't want to live in a cottage or have an allotment or live in the countryside. In fact if I drop a bar on my phone reception or see a road with the words "quiet lane" or "passing places" I break into a sweat. I am a townie, but not in a cake and crochet kind of a way. Just in a normal person doing normal person things. Not everything is about spending or saving, I like doing some things that cost money, I also like lots of cheap and free stuff. I don't usually use coupons or markets or Aldi, I don't avoid the shops, I don't stockpile. I like balance so slightly more than enough of sensible things like food, slightly less than average for things like clothes, a lot less than average of things like holidays and a lot more than average of orange things.

It wasn't always like that but it is now. For how it was in the past read all other frugal blogs where people wake up realising they have no cash and go about sorting that out. 

What I thought about on Thursday.

This was written in August or some other time ages ago.

Yesterday I had my first quilting problem, the bias binding was too narrow. Sitting under an unbound quilt wasn't the end of the world. I also had a conversation about the difference between a MILF and a Yummy Mummy and while I was at it learned that there is a drink called a babyccino and I think it's a cup of hot milk.

Today I am happy about the cupboard that is above the cupboard that used to contain the hot air blower. Instead of solid shelves there are poles, and removing the pole at the back means I can store rolls of wrapping paper without them getting scrunched. A small thing but it stops gift wrapping fury. I also heard about something called a "funpod", having done an image search the fun is not contained within the appearance of the structure or the fact that it obviously involves a child.