Uber Frugal Month

I tried and failed to do this challenge last year, I didn’t really put the effort in and made excuses which I then allowed to stop me. So, next year I am going to attempt this again! I have signed up to join in January 2020 alongside Hubby, as we both earn alright wages yet saving always seems tricky and money disappears! Not just because I like to go on holiday, as we haven’t had such expensive holidays as Florida and New York (coming up) since our Honeymoon in 2014! So this is only accounting for some spending. Our mortgage payments used to be over £900 a month and we would over pay, but recent years have seen us reprioritise and savings have been made to do things to the house. But other things and materialism has been playing a part in not having as much as we could in savings.

The Uber Frugal Month Challenge (UFM) was created by the Frugalwoods who base their whole life on being frugal yet having luxuries. I find their website fascinating and would definately recommend wandering over to have a good read about all they have achieved. Amazing stuff and so much valuable information to be gleaned from them!

You can sign upto the challenge at any time of the year, though they do it as a group thing in both January and July, you receive an email each day and can join in a group on Facebook. The aim is partly about saving as much as possible, but to also challenge the way you think about and use money ergo affecting future use of money! Read this article from the Frugalwoods: all about how consumption breeds consumption and never being satisfied.

I do use Facebook market place, ebay and other second hand sites at times to look for items. We have gotten some fantasic things this way for bargain prices. Though you can need to weigh up the cost of the item versus collection costs etc. We live quite rurally, to get to a Costco would take aroung an hour, cost of fuel etc, perhaps we will look into whether this could be cost effective, though I do feel the local Aldi is pretty awesome! As a plus size lady, I do struggle to find charity shops in our area that have clothes in my size, except for the ones I have donated so this is an area where I do tend to buy new. I can get quite obsessive about trying to find the perfect clothes and spend lots of money this way, a lot to do with self image issues if I am honest. Definately a can be improved area! I do zig zag from frugal to spendy very quickly and easily depending on what I desire in the moment. Oh I can’t spend £5 on options hot chocolate which lasts weeks, but spending that on a bottle of wine is nothing and it lasts a day, maybe two! Weird way of thinking about cost vs value really.

The Frugalwoods hope that this month with translate into a life style, and given how happy and well established they are, it is understandable they want to share their wealth of knowledge and happiness with the world! I will be exploring the homework and will blog about my thoughts around what they are asking us to do. My only hiccups in January are: we have a short break booked, and will be having a meal out with friends! So not as frugal as it could be already, but hopefully even with these events we will smash the challenge.

Hubby is interested but often tired from working very long hours, and sometimes only getting one day off a week. He often lets me take the lead with money based things and that is ok. But I am hoping he will have some interest in discussing this challenge in more detail as it draws closer! I am looking forward to breaking down the steps to the challenge, knowing it is a month will help psychologically and I do hope we can continue into the future!

DIY part 2

So, those whose saw my recent DIY post, saw that with mostly my mum’s help we managed to wallpaper the alcoves in the Dining room- though our dining table is actually in the lounge, so this is going to be more of a snug!

Trying to source shelves in the correct sizes was turning out to be impossible, both alcoves are different lengths and the depth was much deeper than regular shelves, but the deeper shelves would all be too big. Hubby and I discussed options, I really wanted the shelves to come into line with the chimney breast if possible. I went online and browsed around for bespoke shelving, honesly the cost made my eyes water. No way, even if we could afford those shelves, would I want to pay £1400, though the oak shelves were beautiful.

So we spent time looking at B&Q and the different ranges and options. We had almost decided to go for a smaller depth as we were concerned our cutting skills would be very poor along the length of the shelf, though cutting width may be ok! Thankfully once we thought we had the right shelf- costing £196.20- including batons, B&Q were unable to get any more of the shelving. So we wandered off to our local Huws Grey Building Merchants. The man was super helpful and with his expertise, we concluded that MDF cut into the exact sizes we needed would be our best option. Though maybe it’s not the perfect look, it is very strong, durable and affordable! He also sized up the length of 4×4 batons we would need and costed it all up for us.

I was so shocked at the cost for it all: £98.99

So with that pleasant surprise we paid for the goods, collected the precut wood and left over MDF three days later! This weekend we finally had some time to get those shelves up. I really wanted them up for Christmas, as our books were just in piles on the floor!

The dogs are never keen when we are doing things, they like it when we sit and cuddle them!

Hubby did most of the work, I helped to measure, held the wood whilst he sawed (we must have lent our workbench to someone!), held wood on the walls for him to screw them in, changed drill bits and general dogsbody things! He did all the proper sweaty work!

We have never done this kind of DIY before, so we went in with an awareness that we could cock up, but that would be ok, we would take our time, measure twice etc etc. One of the main issues was that there are electric sockets on both alcoves, so this could be an issue, we didn’t have one of those clever gadgets that detects wires and from everything we read- wires go up! So we did the alcove where we could easily avoid the double sockets at the bottom and the probable wires up the wall!

After trouble with the first shelf- drill bit not going through the wall, screws actually too small, spirit level not being level- Hubby ran off to Huws Grey before it closed, got the bits he needed and came back, I went to my Dad’s and borrowed a masonary drill bit! Take two saw the shelves going up much quicker!

Utilising the arm of the chair to drill holes, Hubby working hard to get those shelves up!

Troubles on Sunday were with the extra sockets on the wall in the second alcove, we turned all the electric off in case the theory of the wires going straight up was wrong! Our main issue was trying to avoid the possible cable path meant the drill went at a slightly odd angle, resulting in two broken drill bits, cussing and frustration! But with perserverance and ribena, he did it! We were going to build six shelves on the right side, but went with 5 with bigger gaps between them. On the left side we have built three shelves and left a large gap underneath so that we can utilise that space for other ideas I have! Hubby despairs when he sees me on Pinterest.

So pleased with the final product! Love it!

What we used:

  • Hand saw
  • Drill- we had two batteries so this helped
  • Brown raw plugs
  • Screws
  • Regular wooden drill bit- 3 to be precise!
  • Masonry drill bit- very necessary when drilling into masonry!
  • Length of 4×4 wood for batons- we have left overs which was good
  • Pre-cut MDF to the correct sizes via Huws Grey
  • Lots of Ribena

I am so pleased with it, we have a very large mirror that we are going to hang on the fireplace once we get the correct brackets, we have filled up the shelves with books, two new lamps- waiting to get correct bulbs as ones from the shop were way too bright and some Christmas things. I am now officially in love with this room, I never have been before! We have a fridge-freezer in here for the dogs raw food that we will get into the shed at some point when we can get electric in there. And a wall of photos which has been there since we moved in, which is so lovely to look at. We are also aiming to get our fire in there, it has been in the shed a long time so a bit rusty but should fix up well! Very exciting!

Mortgage Roundup 2019

We started the year with a mortgage of:

£158,003

And years end:

£152,475

We have taken £5,528 off the capital, I hope 2020 will see a bigger drop! I would like to aim to into the 140’s by December 2020, will have to work out if this is feasible!

Countdown to Christmas

We like to try and make Christmas magical by doing different things on the countdown, this can be really difficult with our clashing shifts and work hours. Some of these things will be free, some are not at all free, some things are a one off for this year, some things we do every year, some are indoors and some are outdoors! We put the tree and decorations up before we went away, to make sure the house felt Christmassy when we came back!

December 1st-

We went to Glasgow and headed to the Christmas Markets! A nice Christmassy way to welcome December! We were travelling here specifically for NBC live with an Orchestra, we have never travelled this far for Christmas Markets before! Ended up being cheap as we bought nothing!

December 2nd-

We had booked to see Nightmare Before Christmas, live with an Orchestra and original cast at the Hydro for its 25th anniversary. Super Christmassy, very wonderful and I dont think it is something we will see happening again! I bought middle range seats!

December 3rd-

We watched a program about the making of Home Alone on Netflix, can just pass as Christmassy but had driven back from Glasgow, been shopping for food and also bought some new decorations from the Range! Technically Christmassy to buy decorations?!

December 4th-

Hubby had been working some ridiculous hours today, so the dogs and I watched Christmas films on Netflix! Some of the homemade ones are so good, really give you the Christmas feels!

December 5th-

We watched The Holiday, technically a Christmas film, very good film!

December 6th-

Another Christmas film tonight, with the dark nights and wet weather, this is a good way to welcome Christmas! We havent decided which one yet

December 7th-

We are going for a Christmas meal with friends at their house, this should be a nice cheap evening, with board games and festive things!

We haven’t planned out any other specifics yet, but the other things that we like to do are:

  • Get Christmas Hot Chocolates- home made or shop bought, maybe both
  • Go out for a Christmas meal
  • Wrap presents
  • Watch many of the Christmas films we love, Polar Express is saved for Christmas Eve and Elf is always on Christmas day! Other films: Christmas Chronicles, Home Alone 1&2, Santa Claus 1&2, Get Santa, Jingle all the way, Die hard (!?) and I am sure there are others!
  • Go light hunting, this is sometimes done more than once, we pick a direction and head off looking for the best light displays in our area, the dogs come too!
  • This year we will be decorating a second tree, which my mum is giving to us
  • Adventure to local shops, garden centres and local markets to get that buzz and find local gifts
  • Hubby has a December birthday, on that day we ignore Christmas and make it about him!
  • Do the gift delivery to family
  • Go to Santa night if not in work!
  • Wear Christmas clothes, this can be just around the house, to work or when we go out!

Please share any ideas that you do, or traditions that you have, I am always looking to expand my horizons!

December Mortgage

Oh look, a post about reducing/saving money! Thats a novelty at the moment!!

Was: £152,973
Now: £152,475
Monthly Payment: £666.72 + £50
Capital Paid: £498
Interest: £219

I am hoping that January 2020 will see us drop into the 151’s! How exciting! We are still waiting for further information from Tesco regarding them closing and moving us to another mortgage provider, hopefully we will barely notice!

I am happy with our reductions this year, of course I always want more, more of everything, more overpayments, more holidays…but there is some semblance of balance, tipping more to adventure at the moment!

Glasgow

On Sunday 1st December, we said goodbye to the doggies, leaving them with their lovely sitter and drove 4hours and 15minutes to Glasgow! The drive down was great, very little congestion, hubby did all the driving (I did offer to share) and we stopped for a hot drink, krispy kreme donut and burger king on the way!

We arrived at the hotel- Radisson Red- parked up and were just in time to check in. We unloaded our bags, checked out the very lovely room, with perfect views of the Hydro stadium and the Clyde River. Then off we went, using google maps. We wandered into the heart of the city, along the riverside which was beautiful, it was very, very cold! Our main aim was to get to George Square for the Christmas Markets. We had a really good wander around, looked through the Market and all the other lovely shops before getting a bit lost and confused, then headed back to the hotel. We found the local Hard Rock Cafe- this has become an accidental thing, we have glasses from Vegas, London, Edinburgh, Paris and Orlando, we will collect more in New York! We had tea at the hotel, a cocktail and got a bottle of wine- which I have brought home as we didn’t finish it!haha. Food was ok, quite pricey for what it was. I was worried about noise levels in the hotel, but actually, it was all quiet!

Radisson Red in Glasgow: views from the window and our room! We could see the Hydro!

We got up at 8am the following day, got dressed, wrapped up warm and walked to TriBeCa cafe on Dumbarton Road, took about 33minutes. I chose this place for breakfast after googling for the best pancakes in Glasgow! I am a bit obsessed with american style pancakes, I admit, I have issues! We had a thoroughly enjoyable breakfast there, the pancakes were so yum as was the french toast. Hubby had candied bacon on his, he said it was delishious! Once we were filled, we wandered about 15minutes to the Riverside Museum.

Wow, what a museum! We loved it, its up there for me, with the Mob museum in Vegas! The building itself was fascinating, and the inside was just great, really interesting, well designed and interesting space! We spent a couple of hours wandering around and enjoying it all. I am sure it would be easy to spend more time there if you were so inclined. The museum was free, they survive on donations, we donated a tenner for both of us. We then went to the Tall Ship, which is behind the museum on the river. This was fascinating and interesting too, again free, so a small donation was made. We then got the hop on hop off bus, hubby enjoyed lisitening to the audio, I enjoyed looking out of the window. We got off at George Square then wandered down towards Enoch Shopping Centre. I found Yours, plus size shop and got some great clothes all on offer, yay! We didn’t end up going into the shopping centre, we were all shopped out just from the high street, there are so many shops! We then got back on the hop on hop off bus and got back to the hotel. We booked into the Rotunda Italian restaurant for an early tea, as that night was the main reason we travelled to Glasgow. We had the pre-theatre menu, which was super yummy, it was very busy so the service was a bit hit and miss understandably. Good food, would definately go back!

Mega fit pancakes from TriBeCa, some Glasgow shots and some of the Christmas Market!

The reason we went to Glasgow: The Nightmare Before Christmas, live with an Orchestra, featuring Danny Elfman, Catherine O’Hara and Ken Page!!!!!!!!

OMG, could I be anymore excited?! Probably not, I am a massive NBC fan, watch it every year, got married on Halloween and got the DJ to play some of the songs during the night! We booked the tickets a year ago, when I saw that it was coming over for the 25th anniversary. Hubby decided he would like to see it in Glasgow, as we have been to London a few times and the distance is similar. So, thats how we came to be in Glasgow. He has been to Glasgow before and I hadn’t, and as a massive Scotland fan, I was more than happy to go! We walked the two minutes from the hotel to the Hydro, wasted some time before going to sit to watch the show.

It was incredible, the Orchestra were incredible, Danny Elfman was out of this world, the back up singers were perfection, Catherine O’Hara knocked my socks off and Ken Page was spot on! Best production I have ever been too, I didn’t think I could love NBC anymore than I do, but I do love it even more now! We did queue up and get a program- £15, ouch. But you gotta do it sometimes! After the brilliant show, we went up to the Red Sky Bar at the hotel and had a couple of very expensive cocktails before going to sleep.

The screens at the Hydro, we were on quite an angle, but still a great view! My Sally ears came all the way from Orlando in September, love them! And hubby always looks good!

We then travelled home- the car needs a very expensive part replacing so that made the drive a bit tense, but we got home in one piece!

Costs:

  • Radisson Red- £158 for 2nights
  • Parking at hotel- £10 for 2 nights
  • Tickets for NBC- £124 for 2 tickets including booking fee etc
  • Food, drink, fuel and miscellaneus- £311
  • Hop On Hop Off bus- £32 for 2 of us for one day

What a great short break, Glasgow is a great industrial city, lots of shops etc and plenty to do! If you are thinking of going, stop thinking and go!

December is fast approaching!

I am, and always have been, a Christmas girl! Not in any religious sense, but in a, magical, warm and fuzzy sense. I find all the decorations, lights everywhere, films and songs warm me to my cockles. I love nothing more than snuggling with the doggies on the sofa and finding a Christmas film to watch and give me the feels. It’s a month where the daylight is short, nights are long, the weather is more wet (if that’s possible!) and Jack Frost is often creeping around.

Both Hubby and I like to decorate early, we try to put our decorations up on the 1st December and take them down sometime in January. I love how the Christmas tree and lights make the room glow! We don’t tend to decorate outside the house, mainly because I have always been paranoid about ‘showing’ we are Christmas and making us more at risk of burglaries (paranoid!).

This year we are not going to be here for the first few days of December, so will be starting to decorate this week, will be lovely to come back to a fully decorated and lovely looking house! Last December absolutely flew by, I was working on the agency to taking last minute shifts whenever I could in order to make sure we could pay our bills and this meant the month seemed to disappear. This year I want to re-do our wooden countdown calendar, I write down a list of things to do- buy a festive hot chocolate, put down Christmas film names, go looking for the best festive nights, go to a Christmas Market, Wrap the presents etc. etc.

I work long days and Hubby works away a lot, this means that I will have to consider our availability to make this work! Was easier when I worked 9-5, as only had to work around hubby!haha. I am hoping to be able to wear some festive outfits to work and find some fun earrings (only got my ears pierced this year), as I am working Christmas eve and Boxing day on 12 hour shifts….

I have a lovely day off with the doggies today, trying to recuperate from two long days with lots of energy expended, so I will spend it making notes about what can go in the calendar to help keep the whole month feeling delightful and festive despite super busy and tough jobs for both of us!

Part of this plot, is to make Christmas about doing things together, low to little cost, which helps with the magical aspect!