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Showing posts from April, 2013

Money!

A very uninspired title but it's all about money. Having our monthly chat about the budget, work, food, fun and the future we decided to do things properly. On Dan's saving scale of "nothing" to "push push push" we're currently closer to "nothing" and from this month are moving closer to "push push push". 

We're going to almost double the savings, the actual savings, not including the money we stick aside for specs, contacts, vet visits, car stuff etc. We want to feel as though we're saving, not just coast along with what we're doing now. 

We're going to do it the small way. There aren't too many big sacrifice-free savings so we're doing the small but beautiful things like switching mobile contracts, ditching the car, not having big days out, not eating out, getting more stuff done around the house, spending more time at the beach, walking for recreation etc. The truth is, once the money has been stashed then th…

April Round Up

We spent all the money. On things, lots of the things were bottles of Stringers Dry Stout. Can't think of much else. We were also £90 under savings target as we gave £100 to the rescue we got the buns from, they need the cash. But then we had £10 in the bank so that's back in the ISA.

Erm, that's it! There's enough cash to buy bunny greens and milk if we need it but other than that the cash has gone. I'm doing a bit of a batch cook this afternoon to use up all the bits and bobs from the fridge and that's a thing. I'll be making veg pasties, a tagine thing, curry, lentil bol and maybe chilli if there's enough veg. 

Oh yes, I was very brave and allowed the stocks of toilet paper to dwindle. I usually panic when we only have two in stock and now we have none in stock. Ha! Staring danger in the face.

The Outdoor Room

When we moved here the garden was a state, it still is. Father and Dan have chopped back all the shrubbery, so we've gained about 9ft extra width but the birds have lost lots of hidey holes. Last time they ventured out there Father found a silver birch we didn't know we had and many many many crocosmia (which is a bonus as I am after a retro garden).

We're now balancing the desire to have a nice garden with the lack of drive to spend time doing the work and the wish to spend as little cash doing it as possible. I'm not at a point where I want to grow things from seeds, we don't have window sills here so there's nowhere to have seedlings growing (thankfully, it would drive me nuts). I find it hard to buy bedding plants because I know I won't appreciate them for the short amount of time they'd be alive. Dan has very few opinions either way but he has an emotional response to alpines. So we have a lot of them.

We also have bulbs, bulbs are great aren't t…

What I Don't Like

I've been a bit negative this week, so here's a list of things I just don't like - 

yoghurt advertising - indulgent "me time" treat, I don't think so
cheese
the music and mythology of David Bowie
marathons
John Inverdale
the endless stream of people knocking at my door trying to sell me things
cats
crochet snobbery 
grammar/language change snobs 
pinterest (especially when concerned with grammar)
waiting
the inefficient nature of petrol stations

My One Night Stand

With My Fitness Pal is over. And I'm glad, it wasn't great, or fun, or even interesting. It was very much the morning after the night before. 

So that's good. 

Grocery spend for this week is currently at a very low and respectable £15.06, I even bought some reduced things from the Co-op on the way back from having my wig chopped. It was all veg - take that diet tracker! We will for some reason be getting some cash back when the mortgage switch happens next week *hooray* aaaaaand that's about it. With just this weekend to negotiate we have cash in the bank, the weekend budget, enough petrol to get us to Widnes v Wakefield and back and enough petrol to get us to Clitheroe to the Craft Open at the Platform Gallery. Now if I can just avoid temptation at Byrnes I think we'll be ok.

Finally, congratulations to the delightful Rhys Hanbury for making the 27 man Exiles squad. You deserve it Rhys!

Micro-Managed To A Standstill

I signed up for My Fitness Pal. 
It is not my pal, it made me very sad. It made Dan furious. 
I don't think I'm going to be using it for very long. 
All this misery and sore buttocks for 0.6lbs a week. I don't flaming well think so. I'd rather not know then eventually discover my skirt was a bit less tight. No wonder people on diets are so miserable. Tracking and writing everything down doesn't make me feel in control (unlike a spending diary) it makes me think about food, food and more food. That's not a happy state of affairs. I'm like that episode of Father Ted where they all gave something up for Lent and Jack saw people as giant glasses of stout. 
On the plus side, it was free. In other good news I'm on my way to finding the £30 I need to make amends for not doing the Money Supermarket thing. Found 7p in my pocket, 3p on the floor, £1 in the window cleaning wallet and had £4.02 left over from the shopping budget this week. How much is that? 
In more bad…

April Menu Plan

We did the plan last night. Again, it's a simple thing. I know a lot of people have a problem with planning first because what you want might not be available or something else might be cheaper but I don't see that as a problem for planning. The plan is something that guides me towards what we're going to have. So if I get to the shop and the don't have whatever it is then I buy something that will do the trick. If we said we wanted tacos but find some wraps in the pantry then we'll use them - tacos is kind of shorthand for "something spicy involving lots of cumin, chipotles and beans. If a recipe has certain veg in it but other veg a cheaper then we'll buy what's cheap, it's not a big deal. Far from being regimented or there to scupper my creativity (not that I wish to have creativity where cooking is concerned) it frees me up.

Also, back on the diet thing as of yesterday. I'd already done 45 minutes exercise, had a shower and was ready to eat …

New Phone, HOORAY!!!

I'm sure I've mentioned 87 times or more that my phone drowned in July during a downpour when we went to watch Widnes play Bradford at Odsal. Since then I've been using an old skool huge thing, so ridiculous it never leaves the house. 
Today I have a new, to me, phone. Dan's workmate is a total geek (as worked out using the official venn diagram) and has more technology than anyone else I am aware of. So now after the exchange of £20, bargained up from the tenner he suggested as a sale price, I have a new phone. Not that one, I have Dan's old phone - the one with the A key that sticks so it looks like I'm texting in some kind of Allo Allo Italian style, I like that about it. But it is small enough to take outside (even if I can't be trusted with it), has a battery life of more than 48 minutes and doesn't crash every time I view a picture on facebook. Plus now neither of us has to try to negotiate the whole "upgrade" thing when that time comes a…

Friday

9am
where am I? at home
what am I wearing? blue trousers, green top, walking trainers
what's the sky like? overcast but promising
what's motivating me? getting ready for a tramp out, the park, a fry up
2pm
where am I?Rossall Point Observation Tower
what am I wearing? as 9am
what's the sky like? beautiful blue with plenty of sunshine
what's motivating me? Having the grand tour, oystercatchers, miles of sand, lighthouses
5pm
where am I? Booths!
what am I wearing? as 2pm but with grey converse on my feet
what's the sky like? cloudy blue
what's motivating me? beer and tomatoes

30 Ways To Save One Pound

This is just about how I feel, not being negative about the competition in general or anyone who has chosen to take advantage of the free cash!
It's virtually impossible to avoid this competition at the minute. So I've been thinking about it and I don't have 30 tips. Not 30 tips that apply to me. We've all read the same tips over and over and they're great inspiration but if I want to stick my name on something then I want it to be about things I actually do, not just any old thing just for the sake of it. 
We don't shop enough to cut stuff out, there's so much stuff that we just don't do that we couldn't save money on them, like drinking water instead of pop, ditching the daily coffee, taking a packed lunch instead of buying one out etc. If we spend money on something it's because that thing has earned a place in our budget, some of it is money saving, some of it we can pay for because we've done the big money saving things. We buy in a very…

Car, Kitchen, Bathroom

Along with the fully funded emergency fund we want/need to save up for a new car, a new bathroom and a new kitchen. We've had this car since 2008 so hopefully we'll have it for a few years yet - long enough to save for a new one. The kitchen was the cheapest of the cheap kitchen stuck in by the daughter of the previous owner for when this house was a rental - it's awful, I feel the cash draining from my bank account whenever I use the oven. the bathroom, well, other than the addition of a shower it's as old as the house, 45 years. It's in broadly feasible condition but there are a lot of cracked tiles, the bath has unattractive brown patches and it's just old and unloved. 
We won't borrow money for this kind of stuff so we have to save for it. Feels like a big task at the minute but I think we're just going to have to work on an every penny counts basis to get us there.
When we saved for our current car things were good, we used the cash from our debt sno…

I Am On A Diet

I'm not making healthy changes to my lifestyle, I'm not baby stepping my way to weightloss, I am on a diet. It's all pain. 

When I was fat starting to lose weight was alright. We had no cash so it was easy to give up the pub, chocolate bars, baking and all that stuff. It was good to learn to cook, there were a couple of failures but all in all it was ok. It was easy to get used to the smaller portion sizes, it was fine to try new vegetables and new ways of cooking. I'm sure I complained at times but because I was going from feeling so unhappy to being full of energy and joy it didn't matter. It wasn't good to start exercising. We had to walk because we'd taken the car off the road to save money and I didn't like it. I cried on the way home from the supermarket once. The supermarket was about a mile away. 

That was ages ago. We both lost weight, I got rid of 42lbs and Dan got rid of about 60lbs, we lived in a really healthy way, did a ton of exercise and i…

Ironing and Ironwomen (no,not that one)

Am I the only person who is going the other way when it comes to ironing?

Other than going to the hairdresser v cutting your own wig I don't think there's much that stirs the passions to the same extent as ironing.

For my whole life I've been one of those people who thought ironing was a waste of time, I still don't get those folk who stick on the Coronation Street omnibus and open a bottle of wine and find doing a ton of ironing soothing. But I am really surprised at the way in which not ironing is some kind of honourable thing. It's just a task, it involves getting out a bit of equipment but so does hoovering or sweeping, it involves standing up, ok... but that's it. I can't really remember what my objection to it was. But already today I've read in 3 different places about how people who iron are dull and how not ironing your clothes doesn't make any difference.

We bought an iron in 2003 when we bought our first house, we returned it to Comet and go…

Sunday

9am

where am I? in the garden

what is the sky like? scary grey

what am I wearing? blue pyjamas

what's motivating me? feeding the noisy blackbirds, tea

2pm


where am I? in front of the tv

what is the sky like? blue 

what am I wearing? jeans, many grey tops, sandals

what's motivating me? football, hot chocolate

5pm


where am I? Near Burnley

what is the sky like? very grey, rainy, blustery (the usual)

what am I wearing? as 2pm but with black pumps

what's motivating me? roast dinner, the conversation game, going on a diet

Making The Most Of Things

Recently I've been thinking a lot about making the most of things, appreciating what I have and all that stuff, but I realise that I don't.

Is is possible to really appreciate what we have? I know I'm lucky to live where I do, of course I see the faults of the house more clearly than I see the good bits sometimes but in terms of the area I think I'm a bit neglectful. It took us two and a half years to visit our local pub which is all of 4 minutes walk away. 

When we moved here I said I'd go to the beach multiple times a week. I don't. I hardly ever go. It's madness, but things take over and the attitude of "it'll always be there" is in my mind. We lived in our old house for 7 years and in the past 6 months we've spent more time exploring that area than we did when we lived there. For example, we used to drive through a village called Whalley every week when we went to the supermarket, only yesterday did we visit the Abbey. I didn't even …

Love The Menu Plan

Reading a post elsewhere about menu planning made me realise I haven't given the menu plan a thought this month. I've just looked at the sheet and cooked. No quibbles, no wishing I was having something else, just easy and simple. Exactly as it should be. 

I guess it has become a habit. As Dave Ramsey says about the budget - I'm the boss of it until it's written down then it's the boss of me!

Thursday

9am
where am I? on the M6
what's the sky like? grey and rainy
what am I wearing? pink and orange vest, pink trousers, grey converse
what's motivating me? Shrewsbury, anniversary
2pm
where am I? The Three Fishes
what's the sky like? grey 
what am I wearing? as 9am plus a green jumper
what's motivating me? stout, escaping the rain, living on £53 a week
5pm
where am I? outside Poppy's sweet shop
what's the sky like? grey
what am I wearing? as 2pm plus purple cardigan, hat and waterproof jacket
what's motivating me? quilt backing and wadding, hot chocolate, spicy bean pasties, departure

When We First Met

This is nothing about saving money or any of that stuff. Tomorrow it is twelve years since I met Dan. There's nothing particularly remarkable or romantic about how or where we met but that's how good things happen sometimes. 

My friend was 21 that day and there was a big night out planned. I'd been at work since 7.30 that morning and was dead tired, my boss had gone out so after work I hung around talking to the manager of the hotel where I worked until I really couldn't wait any longer and still go on this night out.

So I went home, threw on any old thing, didn't have time for make up or too much primping, thankfully missed the shots of homebrew amaretto when collecting my friend and off we went to the pub (Keystones in York). That's where it began. I was introduced to two lads, one who worked with my friend and his mate. We did the usual "what are you studying?", "which college are you in?" etc. Then of course "where are you from?"…

I Love To Hate You

Something that became very clear yesterday was that people love to hate certain things. In my case I seem to love to hate things that are good for me. 

Probably the only exception is my bad boyfriend. My bad boyfriend is called Gareth. I love him with all my heart and yet I know he's going to dump me and break my heart eventually. Anticipating when it's all going to go hideously wrong and I'll be left with nothing but memories of the good times and claims that I'll never love that way again is part of the appeal. 

Anyway, that's beside the point. Things I love to hate - 

finishing a quilt

exercising

cleaning things like the bunny pen, oven and blinds

having my hair cut

listening to radio phone-ins

getting out of bed

decluttering

hearing my mother in law talk about the charity she works for (oh the drama!)

anything to do with being cold

the fact that I'm going to have "Love To Hate You" by Erasure in my head all day

Sunday

9am

where am I? having a lie in!

what's the sky like? not visible

what am I wearing? large "Parks and Recreation t-shirt

what's motivating me? warmth, tea

2pm


where am I? Widnes

what's the sky like? cloudy grey

what am I wearing? many layers - jeans, converse, grey vest, red jumper, fleece, snood

what's motivating me? getting a seat

5pm


where am I? on the road

what's the sky like? still cloudy

what am I wearing? as 2pm without the fleece and snood

what's motivating me? a good win (58-24), Moomins, hunger, becoming an aunt (ha!ha!)

Friday

9am

where am I? in the bathroom

What's the sky like? sunny!

What am I wearing? black dress, grey leggings, grey cardigan

What's motivating me? sea buckthorn shower gel, watermarks

2pm


where am I? in the living area

What's the sky like? very blue

What am I wearing? black dress, grey leggings

What's motivating me? warmth, bunnies, iced buns, new flowers *yay*

5pm


where am I? in the kitchen

What's the sky like? half grey, half blue

What am I wearing? stripy dress, flip flops

What's motivating me? clean floors, tofu, garlic, trimming quilt blocks

April Week One

The savings have been tucked away, the car has been filled with petrol, Dan is off to get his hair cut today, we bought the toiletries and some hay. That's it so far. I say "that's it", it's all the expensive stuff. But I prefer it that way, get those purchases out of the way first. 

Obviously I spent a ton at the supermarket, least said about that the better. But we're not going shopping next week, I've already bought everything for our day out next week *yay* and the pantry is full. The giant baked beans went down very well, was really easy and cheap as anything (I used half a shallot, a clove of garlic, squeeze of veg puree, about 1/3 of a tub of passata, a tin of butterbeans, some fresh parsley, pinch of cinnamon and some oregano). It was a good "feels like spring but is still very wintery" dish. There were no leftovers sadly.

This weekend should be low spend, Dan is still working through the thesis for our friend so that will take up a bit of…

Treat Budget

I mentioned before about our weekend treat budget and how it stops us going bonkers. It's £10 each weekend and even though things seem expensive these days there's a lot you can get for a tenner. We spend/waste (depending on your viewpoint) our cash on things like - 

beer 
tea and toast at our favourite cafe in town
a second hand game for the laptop or wii
a magazine and a bar of chocolate
music downloads or 3 cds for £6 from the cheapo shop
renting a dvd from the library (£2 but they often have 2 for 1)
going to the cinema (our local cinema is £3.50 for an adult)
watch the Saturday teatime football game at the pub
plants 
Fisherman's Friends
a pint before the rugby 
a bag of chips to share on the prom
toy for the buns
a round of crazy golf
donation to the art gallery or museum
parking if we go for a wander somewhere

Yes, beer is the recurring theme. 

Boring Post About Grocery Shopping

I think I'm addicted to spending.
Yesterday I spent £54.55 on toiletries. Oh yes, that was including a £10 off voucher. Cripes. Then we went to the supermarket and I spent £72.99. £72.99! That is a lot of cash. Having said that I now have no spare cupboard space at all. 
Almond milk was on special offer £1 a litre instead of £1.59. Dan uses it every day so we bought 4 of those (that was all they had left), cereal was on offer so we bought 5 boxes, passata was on offer so I bought 3 jars. Pasta was on offer, wraps were on offer. All stuff that's on the menu plan and all stuff we eat every week. It was still a shock to hand all that cash over but I'm a happy kitten about it. The shop was very low on fresh fruit and veg though, I think the Easter locusts had been through and cleaned them out. 
The offers are on until the 23rd so I may stock up more, especially on the almond milk... Also available cheaper than usual laundry liquid and toilet rolls. They are tempting me... I'v…

Compromise

I've had trouble trying to eat a vegan diet because I don't like milk.

I've never been a fan of dairy products, I can't stand cheese and have eaten it maybe 4 or 5 times in my life, I'm not a fan of cream and don't really like milk, so giving up what little bit I do have should be easy. Not so and it's pretty much all psychological. Soy milk is too creamy for me and it's really the only thing that works in tea and coffee. I can cope with rice or nut milk on cereal or porridge but it just lacks a little something. Oddly my dairy loving Dan finds eating a vegan diet as easy as falling off a log!

So yesterday we had the conversation, how to compromise. How I'm going to compromise is to ignore the inconvenient truth of dairy farming and have cow milk in my breakfast tea and in my breakfast porridge. It's a small thing but it's a huge thing too. I don't want to do it really but beating myself up about being unwilling or unable to sustain that w…

Totting Up March

Pretty easy to do, we spent every penny! Contact lenses, tickets galore, topping up the emergency fund after the vet bill, something to do with insurance, a big clothing blow out. It all added up to spending ever penny. We didn't do very well with getting extra cash into savings either, we were target +8% but I guess 8% is better than nothing at all. From next month there will be the addtional £50 a month going in from the mortgage saving (goodbye terrible mortgage lender, hello hopefully better one).

There is 38p left of the grocery budget which is also quite good going as it feels as though I've done nothing but eat recently.

We've made the decision to not buy anything else for the house this year which I think will reduce the cost of our days out as I am generally tempted to buy something cute to remind me of a good day. But you know, I have a camera so can take hundreds of photos for free! 

I'm warming to picnics too. We took one out with us yesterday and it was fine.…