Uber Frugal Month Homework, Step 2-7

Step 2- So, I looked through my personal spends in November and then our joint account spends. It got a bit confusing as we often pay ourselves back from the joint account, but it isn’t always clear what we have spent it on. Such as, we pay for dog appointments and medication, then the house (joint) account pays us back. We both put a lot of our earnings into the house account, so this is why it pays for things like this. We also use it, if we decide to buy house based things, it is where the holiday money sits until it is used etc. So I am not 100% sure what I have been paid back for, as I will often pay for a few things before taking back and the online account isn’t as detailed as I would like! Last month personal spends has included a trip out with my friends for afternoon tea for a friends birthday, where I did go shopping as well as Christmas Presents, which I don’t always have to buy. I have spent over £200 on clothes, I am expecting about £75 back in returned items. Still a lot of money, I did need a waterproof coat- I don’t have one that fits and haven’t for many years, choosing to just get wet! But the other items were desire items!

Step 3-

Fixed Mandatory Expenses- This is non moveable costs

  • Mortgage- £717 (£50 overpayment, rising to £250 overpayment Jan 2020)
  • Gas- £106 every 2-3 weeks in the Winter, less in the Summer
  • Council Tax- £159 (think its for 10/11months)
  • Energy- £25.51
  • Water- £35.50
  • Life Insurance- £60 (I am sure I can get this cheaper if I actually looked, we got it through the mortgage broker)
  • House insurance- £paid in full, approx £114 a year
  • Credit Card- £110 minimum payment (often pay some more)
  • Car Insurance- £26.64

Discretionary Spending-

  • NSPCC and Dogs Trust- £13.67 (I want these to continue)
  • Vodafone- £14.39 (I own my phone outright)
  • Account fee- £5 (we used to earn more back than this, but at the moment we are barely earning to cover it)
  • Zoo- £13.75 (we can discuss if we wish to keep the membership going or not)
  • RCN- £23.70 (This is my insurance for nursing as well as a magazine- could stop the magazine though)
  • TV licence- £154.50 a year
  • Groceries- £90 per week :0 (Between £75-90 on average)
  • Fuel- £80 a month-ish
  • Takeaways- £15 a week on average
  • Hair for me- £10 haircuts once every 4-6months, hair dye £5.50 every 3 weeks
  • Current monthly saver- £250, 5% account, ends soon
  • Clothes and miscellaneous c- unsure what these costs are!
  • The dogs are both on medication-Meloxaid, Desmopressin (we buy from a human pharmacy) and supplements- youmove cheap version, I am unsure of costs as all paid seperately and adhoc! Recently needed x-rays for younger dog so big cost. No insurance as both dogs are rescue with issues so would either be uninsurable, or a ridiculous cost. We have always paid for everything they need outright
  • Dog food- they are now raw fed and we are still trying to get the feeds correct so unsure of costs
  • We eat out but not that often- we went away this month to Glasgow, so spent a lot more there than usual when at home
  • I will sometimes buy lunches for work, these can cost around £5 and I work three days a week
  • I rarely go to McDonalds , Costa or other but can find some months my use increases- last month for example
  • Hubby pays for Amazon Prime and Netflix
  • Internet- something like £18- hubby pays for this from his account
  • MOT and Service- £170ish depending where we go!
  • Adhoc Chicken costs, they don’t need a lot and we buy food as needed,we paid the big costs outright- their home!

Step 4-

What can we get rid of? Well, its tough. I guess that is the point. The Zoo could be dropped, I will work out if we have made use of the membership or not this year and base it on that. Will require a discussion with Hubby, who is working away the next few nights. We do need to work out the costs for the dogs, medications, food, appointments three monthly for reviews etc. Our dogs are our children, they need medication as they both have ongoing conditions that without medication would be life affecting. We get Red’s Desmopressin from the Human Pharmacy, we have to pay for his prescription then pay for the meds, this is still cheaper than it used to be getting them all from the vets! We don’t eat out often, but have a weekly takeaway, we both dislike cooking so it is nice to know that once a week we get something lovely to eat with no effort! Perhaps this can be something to reduce in the future, please?! I am unsure if we can stop the TV Licence, I mean, I could easily not watch the BBC channels, but am unsure how it all works these days! That could be a nice saving!

We could look at the Life Insurance, I am fat, therefore I make it more expensive. But I think that our mortgage broker went for the best deal for her, rather than us, thats fine, she is great with mortgages and I am happy to help her get extra commission, but really we should be investigating this ourselves now! I could look at my mobile phone plan and see if I can get it cheaper. Internet is a new deal and I am sure it was the best we could get- our connection is shocking! I feel haircut costs and hair dye costs are perfectly acceptable, I am 32 with many greys that I am not ready to embrace yet! I will look at moving our joint account, we used to earn good interest when we had more cash in there, but now its in a 5%saver so not helping the current account. Fuel is what it is, I don’t use my car ridiculous amounts, we have a very efficient joint car, and Hubby has his truck. I have no issues with his truck! Could do with being more prepared with work lunches and helping myself as I do 12hour shifts, this would benefit two fold. Clothes are a non budgeted buy whenever thing, I really need to address this with need not desire! We are not ready to stop netflix or amazon yet- sorry UFM!!

Step 5- Substitution

I will be honest, can’t really think of substitutions at this time. I mean, I buy Options hot choc which I love and is cost effective. I love wine and other alcoholic beverages- perhaps I should look into trying to brew my own stuff? I could definately make a version of creme de cassis with blackberries from the garden, missed that this year though. I have started to try and grow veg, my rocket is still doing well and it is almost Winter, but I struggle to grow other things! Another must try! We have chickens, they are ex batteries so laying is hit and miss, that is fine, we just wanted to save them so they didn’t go to slaughter! Will ask my stepmum to help me with foraging I think. I am not conviced about barter and trade at this time!

Step 6-

Reduction of Discetionary Spending- accidently covered this earlier! Except grocery shopping is something we really need to work on! We are upping the mortgage cost, this is because we are on a great deal and want to pay it down more, ultimately helping us!

Step 7- Insourcing

I mean, we don’t outsource often. We paid professionals to do our driveway, much more time effective and a fantastic job comparative to what we can do. Same with the car, we will use a mechanic and ask around for quotes to get a good deal. We paid a gas man to check the boiler when it was playing up. I want to pay a cleaner but Hubby says no! Recently we made shelves ourselves, this was a great example of insourcing. We need to paint and redecorate some rooms, I would like to outsource these jobs but will probs end up doing them with Hubby. Some things are worth trying yourself, but others we need to think about the skill level required and the time constraints we both face.

I am exhausted, this has made my brain hurt to be honest! Will continue on the next steps after my next shift at work!haha.

Uber Frugal Month Homework, Step 1

Establish your goals:

  1. Why are you participating in this challenge? To be honest, it is because we earn ok money and are falling into the pattern of earning more and spending more, but on wasteful things, money just disappears and it shouldn’t be. I would like to pay down the mortgage, grow my savings, increase pension payments and look to invest! We should have more money than we do at the end of the month. We also use credit cards- mostly due to going on two expensive holidays, Florida in Sept was with my family, then next year we are going to New York for a wedding, but turning it into a big holiday. We have our car on a personal loan, need to work out how much longer that is for- interest is calculated at the start of the loan so repayments won’t reduce the amount payable, and the credit card is 0%, we are very good at tarting cards and have been doing this for a few years now. I would love to be credit card and personal loan free.
  2. What do you hope to achieve? I guess I would like to achieve a feeling of freedom and also the security that comes with less debt, this includes on the mortgage as well. I would love to be able to save more money, invest money and see money do more for me, rather than helping to line the banks pockets!
  3. What are your longterm goals? I struggle with this if I am honest, I kind of think about the future but it is often vague and blurry, Hubby doesn’t have job security like I do as a nurse- ie I have lots more job oppertunities should this job change, I have toyed with the idea of looking to go towards management within my current role and have discussed this with my manager who has said she would work with me towards this. But mostly, my long term goals would be more vague, like, to be mortgage free at some time, to have good savings, investments, to have choices around when I retire, to be able to travel more- possibly a van of somekind to transform, to be stable in my relationship with Hubby, for the dogs to live forever….To have a job I can tolerate, to work because we can do things with the money, rather than because we have to work to pay off x, y and z. To choose a lower paying job if I desire, for Hubby to feel he has choices around his work.
  4. Where do you want to be in 10years? At the grand age of 42, I would like to be looking at a smaller mortgage, either in this home, or in a lovely little house in a woodland somewhere! For Hubby to be less stressed and feeling more like himself, for me to have experimented with management- whether I enjoy it or not, the oppertunity would be good! Or to consider trying to specialise, I would like to do more around Dementia, perhaps I could specialise more in this area? Oops, still not got clear ideas…Perhaps what this signifies, is that in 10years I want to be happy in work? Mad idea I know! I want to have travelled and explored different places, and have many more places to adventure. On a very personal level, I would like to be in a lot better physical health and have a much better relationship with my body!
  5. What about your current lifestyle might prevent those goals from coming to fruition and what can you do about it? Hmm, habits are very hard to break and I do struggle in the self belief department, so this is probably my biggest barrier, getting my brain on board! I think having Hubby do this challenge alongside me will definately help, its good to have someone on the same journey to offer mutual support. I struggle with motivation and can struggle to think long term, I guess this is something that being aware of will help me to try and work on this. Plus, this challenge is meant to be hard, so that can be a massive downer! It would be easier to carry on how things were, day to day we do well, we have a lovely home, we can make payments, the debt is manageable etc. But I must remember my desire to want more from life, rather than things!

Step 2 is on its way!

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!

Groupon, Wowcher etc

I have gotten some great deals using Groupon and Wowcher- I am sure there are other similar sites as well but these are the two I have used! If I want to go for afternoon tea, a Spa day or a day out locally, I will always check on these sites for any deals. This has definately lead to some great savings on something I would have done anyway. Most recently I got a great deal on a local festival I planned on going to, I got the VIP tickets for the same price as the normal entry fee, this got me lots of free items including rum and cake- perfect!

Though, not all deals are as good as they look- for items, furniture etc, they can be found for the same price or cheaper online on sites such as Amazon, so it is always worth shopping around before you buy.

I have used groupon for Las Vegas- I signed up with the hotel address of where we were staying. I got buy one get one free on yard length margaritas and unlimited alcoholic drinks on the Linq Hotel’s big wheel, the High Roller for a bargain cost for three people! So it often seems that local bargains, even abroad can be found.

I tried when we went to Paris, but it was in French- unsuprisingly really- so I wasn’t able to understand it at all!

We are off to New York next year, and one of the places we want to stay is often on Groupon so I will be doing the same again closer to the time!

These type of sites are also a great way to discover what awesome and interesting things are in an area, I learnt new things about where I live by looking through the deals, some great finds to be had- but be sensible, you dont save by buying something you dont want, or if you dont check that you are getting the best price!

Hobbies

I think it is really important to have hobbies, they can come in many different forms and at a variety of different costs. Some hobbies can be pretty much free. I say pretty much free, as, if you think of walking, you still need shoes and clothes that are appropriate. Most people already own these so, therefore, walking is pretty much free. You could also spend a lot of money on walking should you wish!

My hobbies are pretty sedentary overall, I love reading! Libraries are great for this- though our local one shut down a few years ago, so not as convenient for me- book shares in work places, with friends and family are cost effective and also looking out for bargains in charity shops and online. I have had some great deals on my kindle via amazon, I made use of the free month borrowing scheme and read a bucketful of books all in one series and it was great! Just remember to cancel again after!

I love watching TV and films as well, we got rid of Sky a few years ago and now use Amazon Prime- great for deliveries, Alexa and music, though hubby pays extra for even more music, not just watching stuff! We also use Netflix, this has been great recently and I have been very pleasantly surprised by some of their own creations! I like to read blogs, pretty much free, I already have a laptop, desktop and smartphone. I play the Sims, not free, but given the amount of hours I spend on it, well worth the cost!

Mr Money Mustache talks about cost versus use as a way to look at spending money. If you buy some fantastic walking shoes, for £100, you could work out the cost per mile. So therefore, the more miles you walk the more cost effective the purchase is. I definately get my moneys worth from Netflix and Amazon, not so sure about my TV license for BBC though!

Hobbies are great for our mental health, they keep our brains occupied and they can give us purpose. They come in many forms, hubby did archery for a while, got really into it and bought lots of equipment. He still has a play around every now and then, so I think it was worth the inital outlay. He has a new hobby at the moment, with my encouragement, he bought an imported Americal Ford F100 1974 truck, all the way from California! It is AMAZING!!!! This hobby cost £4900 to buy, but I believe that this is actually a steal for this vehicle. I choose to look at this as an investment as well as a hobby. If looked after and fixed up- as hubby is doing- then this vehicle will only increase in value. Smashing!

Betty, the truck, is currently at a local garage- how random in this semi rural area, that we have a classic car specialist garage fifteen mins away! Where she is being looked after, she actually broke down on the garage driveway, and the guy has said to hubby he is impressed she made it that far. We trust the garage, they are very clear and upfront about everything, telling us what is imperitive to be done, what hubby could have a go at and what can wait. They also have loads of cool cars up there, I got to have a nosy the other day.

I am in love with her colour!

Some of my family, and one of my best friends are horse people, now, horses are expensive hobby. Very fulfilling though I am told! I also love researching the crap out of things, holidays are my biggest obsession! Pinterest is a wonderful place to while away hours of your day, getting inspired and obsessed!

I would love to hear about any hobbies readers have, how do you balance costs etc?