March Money Madness

I just wanted to use some alliteration there 🙂 It hasn’t been too mad.

I haven’t been able to logon to Tesco since December, very annoying, I try randomly and with everything going on in the world, am not going to ring up to check, presuming it is all linked to being moved over to Halifax. Hubby and I have been discussing stopping the overpayment with the current climate, including the uncertainty and fear around his job. Though as we are both earning this month, we decided that April should have the £250 OP still and we will play it by ear from there. We are hoping we can carry on as ‘normal’ if nothing changes financially.

I have made a guess that our mortgage should be around: £150,675 if I have paid £600 capital off a month, which I had paid previously when overpaying £250. I am happy with this, wish I knew precisely, but whatever!

We had to take a chicken to the vets and paid £56 for antibiotics and the consultation, sadly, despite treatment beautiful Echo passed away. We syringed her water and the antibiotic but she didnt make it. Blue, who was the first poorly one, got better really quick and is doing great, now Charlie is poorly. The vet wasn’t concerned it was anything contagious to other animals which is a relief and we are treating them all with antibiotics now. Today I will be collecting the dogs prescription then getting them filled, this will be an expensive day! Completely worth it though. £56 for the anti inflamatories and Desmopressin prescription, a further £123 for the prescription to be filled. Need to explore if we can get this cheaper somewhere else, plus they never have 90tablets in so I will have to go back again to collect the rest. What a pain in lockdown, plus I am working 12 hour shifts. Hopefully hubby might be able to go.

Hubby got a chimney sweep in- £70, he (hubby) has capped the chimney pots as birds then tried to nest in the clean chimneys! Got the caps for free, and some stone for the hearth for free. Paid for the fireboard which he has now installed. Unsure of the cost for this! Our current flue is too short, hubby’s dad left his spare outside their house, so when hubby was out with work he could collect it and not break any lockdown laws! This might mean that we can get the fire up and running! We are having issues with the underfloor heating, we think the boiler needs an expansion tank or something, can’t do anything in this situation though, plus the house is still heating just not well.

The shower downstairs has loose tiles which have been letting water in, so hubby has taken them off, this is another job that will need doing. We have been discussing re-doing the upstairs bathroom, getting rid of the downstairs shower and making a small utility area there instead. Luckily, even though the upstairs shower is crappy compared to downstairs, it is water tight and usable. The concrete floor in the lounge is loose in parts, so need to investigate this at some point. Possibly ouchies to the wallet all round!

This month we also paid hubby back what was owed from Florida, and have only had to pay for gas once. I have moved money across which includes £250 holiday, £150 that Aran had been paying on the old credit card that we have paid off, and then paid himself back with and finally £82 that we have saved by cancelling items during uber frugal jan! So we are moving money, the key is to keep it! Or keep saving to pay for all these things we keep finding wrong!haha. After all the bills go out tomorrow I will do a tilly tidy and work out whats left and what we may need to spend for the month.

In April, we may need two lots of gas, its hard to plan in advance as we don’t know what the weather will do! Got away with only one order in March, so we are probably very close to a new order! We will need to buy more raw dog food and treats, about £40 which lasts over a month, Council Tax will be going out again, boo!

Hoping April will bring the peak and decline of covid19, and some semblance of normality will begin to come back. I hope you and yours all safe 🙂

I have been a little absent…

You may or may not have noticed my absence just recently. Even before covid19 shut the entire world down, I have been struggling a little with my mood being up and down affecting my eating massively, which in turn effects my mood!

I am avoidant in my personality, if I feel a certain way, I will shut off and avoid things that may or may not, make me feel worse, or in fact may make me feel better, as feeling shut off feels safe! I have not been struggling with depression or anything more than mild/moderate anxiety around specific situations, and have continued working etc. So it is nothing dramatic, just my brain and I disagreeing and arguing a lot!

Anyway, part of kicking my own brain/butt, is to carry on writing, as it can be really cathartic! So here I am, not in work until Thursday, wondering what I will do today to make me feel like I am making achievements, whilst maintaining social distancing, whilst also feeling very sad about our world, fears about our economy, my husbands future work and quite gutted that we are probably not going to New York at the end of May as we have been planning for 18months, which included a wedding in Central Park. A tiny part of me is hoping Covid19 will f*** off as quick as it seemed to come, but predicitions are that the UK will be hitting the peak in May/June.

I work in a Dementia Nursing Home, all my residents are unwell, both mentally and physically, which puts them in a very high risk group. We are following guidelines and working hard to keep everyone safe. Hubby may have to go and work abroad for a week on and off in another area of his work, as they have closed his local office- if people don’t go, they will have to look at redundancies, which is a frightening concept in this climate. This will put a lot of pressure on both of us, especially with the dogs, though my sister is not in Uni now and both part time jobs have closed, so I could engage her for dog sitting if Aran’s dad is unable to make it in. In good news, her Uni have adapted the end of the degree, so that it can all be done at home and fingers crossed, she will complete her degree and do her PGCE in September!

I have been more spendy these last couple of months, totally linked with my brain and I fighting. I do need new trainers so will be purchasing them and I have had to pay £120 today to carry on Nursing. Though I may be able to claim this back via work, might as well try!

We have decided to carry on overpaying the mortgage at this time, as we both are working and can change this any time if needed. We will wait and see if we need to ask for a mortgage holiday, we don’t yet, so may as well wait and see.

I paid another £200 off the credit card- if New York is cancelled, will probably end up with very little owed on the credit card once we have claimed pay back! It is about £4550 at the moment, still 0% until Dec 2020.

We have almost paid hubby back, so in May, we would be looking at that £150 being moved to the car loan- set interest so paying back doesn’t save money- so that will be paid back quicker- snowballing! Then in theory, we would combine both of these, £150 and £186 with my £200 and smash the credit card. Obviously, this is a little unsure now and credit card debt may change on its own. Hubby may end up losing his job anyways, or we could end up sick and not able to work so every penny will need to be saved, extra payments stopped etc. Also, if we don’t go to New York the £3k saved for that can be utilised in other necessary ways.

Trying to limit time on social media, I find myself getting very agitated by people sharing false news, angry statements, stupid statments, judgy statements. I also think that most people have no understanding of what is happening. We are not social distancing to stop covid19, but to slow its spread, in the UK they are certainly wanting the peak once seasonal flu has buggered off, so that they have more resources to treat it. People seem to think if we isolate a bit, it will disappear. And heck, it might! I am still trying to be a little hopeful that April will see some other awful thing happen and covid19 will ‘poof’ disappear! Every month of this year so far has been unpleasant in some way or another globally.

Have had unexpected pet related costs this year:

Jan 2020- Lady catches Red’s side when playing, he has a skin tear that requires emergency vets and two staples, £96. Healed very well and he is still crazy!

Feb 2020- Red chases a pheasant through brambles…comes out covered in cuts and a thorn in his eye!!! Another emergency vet app, £56. He has healed really well, getting his eye drops in 3/4 times a day was a nightmare! And yes, both dog related issues were on Red, he is a clumsy and crazy boy

So far in March, and there is still time! We have had to take a chicken- Blue- to the vets, as she had become very poorly. We got antibiotics, and she has perked up, but another chicken is now poorly so living in the spare room continuing antibiotics! This was £50. Bloody animals!

I am going to get back into sharing my brain farts, it does help, better out than in! Not been able to logon to mortgage so not been able to see where I am at which is frustrating, still waiting to swap over to Halifax too. Not going to ring as can imagine they are snowed under at the moment, and it will be a year in June so you can expect a big old update then!

New York Prep Part 2

So, hubby is not a keen flier, I have to admit I don’t enjoy flying either, so as we are having to go on a long flight to New York, we decided we may as well adventure whilst we are there! So, after our five days in New York City, exhausted beyond belief and all full of joys from attending what will be a wonderful Wedding, we will be off to explore more of New York State. I have booked our rental car- via Holiday Autos- it was cheaper to go through this third party than directly with Avis. We have booked a Chevy Impala, hubby is a massive fan of American Cars so this felt like a good compromise so he can enjoy a bit of americana! His favourite is the Dodge Challenger/Charger, I can’t remember which one was the number one from those two… but they are very very expensive to rent! We have paid extra for breakdown cover and we already own an american Sat Nav (£40 from Amazon) so cheaper than hiring. The plan is to get the subway back to JFK and collect the car, hubby will then be driving us out of the city, I am way too much of a baby!! I have recently come into the knowledge that Sleepy Hollow is a real town in New York. I know, how did I not already know this? So the first stop is Sleepy Hollow for a quick nosy and photos. In theory, this 35mile trip will take just over an hour.

That first night we are staying in a little smallholding out in Massachusetts via airbnb, it looks delightful and will be the perfect antidote to a busy experience in the city. The plan is to head from Sleepy Hollow to the smallholding, no particular rush and enjoy travelling in a very new area. I would like to cut through Conneticut, just because! The days drive will take around 3hours and cover approx 136miles. We really cannot wait to see some of the local wildlife and other parts of America away from the big cities. I am hoping to arrive by 7pm that evening. We may pick something up to eat in that night so we can just relax. We have paid £108 for this night, I am happy with this, it seems a delighful and quirky home! Plenty of possibilities to see wildlife. They also leave equipment and ingredients to make waffles with the free range duck eggs! Yes please, I am sure we will be missing our chickens by then! It does mention that bears are sometimes roaming around at dusk and dawn, we might see dusk but I am not sure about dawn!

The next day we are heading back into New York State, we will be travelling to Fayetteville to stay in another airbnb. This airbnb is going to be our relaxation place, we can use the pool with the owners and they have a dog, yay! We will be spending three nights here. It is around a three hour drive, 181miles away. So far, I am interested in visiting Howes and/or Secret Caverns if they will be open on the way. We will be passing through Albany, I would also like to pass by the Teepee! This should be a leisurely day, pottering and stopping whenever we want. This airbnb has places to walk and eat, so I think that once we get there, we will unpack and wander around the area exploring. The next couple of days will see us recharging our batteries and exploring all the nature this area has to offer! The fingerlakes are in this area, as is Watkins Glen which we may make an effort to travel too.

We will then be going to Niagara Falls! I really cannot wait for this, I am so excited! I have booked the Seneca Falls Hotel and we do want to go over to the Canadian side as well as go on the boat tours, I think we will plan this in more detail either just before we go, or once we are there. This part of the itenary is fluid, we can either head straight there from Fayetteville in the morning, or do other things in the morning and spend the next day exploring Niagara. This journey will take just under three hours, 173miles, and we will pass through Syracuse. I am thinking it makes sense to just get up and go, meander that way then head to the falls in the afternoon and do as much as possible leaving the next day open.

The next day we are popping over to Pensylvania, we will be staying in Pocono Palace in East Strousberg. This place is super tacky and I cannot wait! I read about the hotel in a book, and knew I had to visit here. This is the most expensive night, we have all inclusive, a room with a 7ft champagne glass bath and a pool in the room. Wow! I absolutely cannot wait for this! It would be good to make the most of this place, mostly due to cost.haha. This will take 5hours 40minutes, and cover 332miles. I would like to stop at Letchworth State Park for a wander on the way.

Then, we will make our way back to JFK, probably very tired and needing another holiday! This is a 3hour journey covering 107miles.

If anyone has any other must sees or try to sees in these areas, please let me know. I will continue planning and reading up until we are already there so always time to add in. I am currently trying to work out if it is better to book a tour at Niagara or DIY the day.

New York (:0) Prep Part 1!

Oh my goodness, I cannot believe that I get to go to New York this year, I am so freaking excited about this! All the thanks go to my brother in law and his future misses, who are getting wed in central park- how delightful! Hubby had agreed to go to Florida (we went in Sept last year) then he found out we would need to go to New York next year and he did regret his previous agreement. Not because he is mean spirited, but he doesnt like flying and worried about the cost of things like this- very understandable! But my wanderlust side just wants to go and adventure, and another trip to the USA is just too tantalising!

Firstly, I spent a lot of time- mostly via Pinterest- reading all about New York, things to do, must sees, unusual things etc etc and pinned them all to my places to go board! I still do this and am always pleased to find out about new places or ideas, or possible itenaries to follow so we can smash the trip! As with Florida, I have discussed with Hubby, what would our must sees be, he struggles with future planning so this is quite difficult for him!

Our list currently looks like this (subject to changes and wiggling):

  • Empire State Building
  • Top Of The Rock- yes I want to do both!
  • Statue of Liberty- thinking Ellis Island, could do staten island ferry
  • Central Park
  • The Highline
  • 9/11 Memorial and Museum
  • Intrepid Museum
  • Times Square
  • Brooklyn Bridge
  • Grand Central Terminal
  • Coney Island, Luna Park and the Wonder Wheel, mostly inspired by Lana Del Ray!
  • Chelsea Market
  • Pop to Hard Rock Cafe for a glass!

Would like to do:

  • Natural History Museum- mostly to see the T-Rex skeleton
  • The Met- mostly to go up to the roof terrace
  • Museum of Sex- because they have a bouncy castle made of boobs :0
  • Hop on Hop off bus tour
  • Find the waterfall between the streets you can walk under

I bought flights with Thomas Cook for £945, including picking our seats and 23kg of luggage. They then went bust- I jumped online at 4 am as I was still on Orlando time and got the same day, different time flights for £950 including seats and luggage weight. Yay! I always make sure to buy items like this on my credit card as you are protected by Section 75, this meant I made my claim via the credit card company and have been reimbursed the original costs, basically covering the new flight costs. I love the Virgin website too…though it makes me want to bid for better seating- hubby helps me to stay reasonable there!

I researched for a super long time about hotels, so many hotels, so many pros and cons. Personal desires:

  • Air con- we are going in June, this is a warm time, I melt in hot weather
  • Soundproofed rooms- I hate noise. If I hear noises at night I can’t sleep and get twitchier, angrier and more irritable, even if the noise then stops. Ask hubby about living with me with our awful noisy neighbours in the last house!
  • Central and close to transport- yes, the whole of New York is transportable, yes, it has great transport links, I get that. But I am not a city girl, cities scare me and I don’t like being out at night, therefore a central location which will be light, full of people and safe is just what I need!
  • Great reviews- obviously tricky as very subjective
  • Pretty and trendy- I love a modern and sleek hotel! I wouldn’t turn down the perfect hotel if it wasnt these things, but they would sway me to pick one!
  • A rooftop bar!!! Because, New York!

I researched for a really long time, I read about so many hotels, I made lists, got pee’d off, stopped searching for a while, bugged hubby with harrassments and questions. My heart knew what hotel I wanted, but logic was struggling due to the cost. In the end, hubby said, just book the one you love, its location is amazing (rated 9.8 by couples on booking.com), there is a subway 0.2miles from the front door, it is a super funky and modern hotel, like amazingly so! Booking.com states it is a top pick in New York, it gets an overall 9.2 out of 10, on trip advisor it scored 4.5 out of 5. Negatives: Rooms are tiny- usual in New York and the bathroom doesn’t have a proper door- we will poop when out/have been together for a very long time. Extra pros- it has its own rooftop bar purely for guests :0 :0 yes!!!!!! So I excitedly/horrifiedly booked a room in the CitizenM Hotel on Times Square- I requested higher up for better views, the rooms all have giant windows, gadgets to control the blackout blinds, soundproofed rooms with movies and fun lighting all controlled by an ipad, amazing reviews, its own rooftop bar that only the guests can use. I got a discount for an early bird booking directly with them and booked for five nights, since then, we found out the lucky bride and groom are heading on their honeymoon the day after the wedding, so we cut it down a night. Cities are great and all, but exhausting!

We had our list of things we want to do, and we looked at many different options for savings, in the end, we decided to get the New York Pass. It cost £329 for both of us- on sale- and lasts three consecutive days. Some of the things we want to do are free, so they will be worked around this pass and must dos. Coney Island is only open on weekends, so we will go there on Sat or Sun, we aren’t big ride goers, so will happily pop along for a nosy, I do want to go on the Wonder Wheel- This is included with the pass, we can go into Luna Park and ride the wheel for no extra cost. The pass includes Empire State, Ellis Island, Top of the Rock, 9/11 Museum, Hop On and Off bus ride for a day, Intrepid Museum, Natural History Museum, the Met, Museum of Sex, Circle Line Sightseeing tour and lots of other tours and things to do in the five boroughs. I have worked out that we will definately get our monies worth. It also means that some our would like toos, but probably won’t due to cost etc, can be done as cost is then irrelevent and the more we do the better the savings!

I have been playing around with possible itenaries, grouping activities in areas/neighbourhoods. I am still reading up and trying to better understand the layout and connections. For example, Chelsea Market is found at the end/start of the highline, it opens early and closes late, the highline is free, therefore these two go together and can be done around the New York Pass with no money consequence.

I have been researching all about the subway in New York, at this time it would be $32 dollars for a metro card and week of unlimited trips, I feel this would be well worth the money and would do us well as it is the fastest way around the city. My friend recently went and used the train/subway to get from JFK to her hotel and found it pretty painless, we are planning to do the same. Its about an hours travel, at the time we arrive, it will be very busy and I believe we may get charged extra on taxis as they do a peak time tax. It would be nice to save money here to use somewhere else. Plus, getting on with it straight away, will help us get over the fear of using the subway! I have even been watching videos about this- anal, I know!

My one struggle in Orlando, was lack of vege food, or at least lack of awareness of it near us. So I have been researching this for New York. I need to go to Champs diner in Brooklyn, I follow them on instagram, and my goodness, I salivate looking at the food! Bareburger is on the list, it does organic and grass fed meat for hubby, and lots of vegan options for me, including hot dogs! Shake Shack does a fit looking mushroom burger and milkshakes! Alcohol related, I want to get a cocktail at the Sugar Factory! I also have a few bagel stores jotted down, my dream was for a rainbow bagel, but the Bagel Store is shut at the moment, I so hope it reopens before we go! I can’t wait to try a traditional lox bagel (I eat fish on occasion, so pescetarian rather than vegetarian if I am honest!).

I think this is all the research on the first part of the trip, I will write up about the second half soon!

DIY Washing Powder and Conditioner

So I have purchased the ingredients to make our own washing powder and conditioner, I have followed the recipe from FreshSkin. I already have quite a few bars of soap, so didn’t need to buy that, the rest I bought from Amazon- using Amazon smile so our chosen charity also gets a little something from my spending!

I have bought:

  • Natural White Vinegar- 10litres in two packs £9.75
  • Lavender Essential Oil 30ml £9.99
  • 6kg of Soda Crystals £8.85

Total cost: £28.59

Earlier in they year, I grated a bar of greek soap (from our holiday there a few years ago), added together the soda crystals and put them into an old container. It takes two scoops per load of laundry, we haven’t added any essential oils and haven’t made conditioner. May do that in the future! Clothes seem fresh and very clean, no smells. I am so happy!

DIY All Purpose Spray

We will be using an empty bottle from a previously bought spray, so one less thing to buy!

This compromises of:

  1. 1part water
  2. 1part white vinegar
  3. 12-15drops of an essential oil

Sounds great and will be mixing this up ASAP! Recipe from FreshHome. I have already ordered white vinegar and essential oils for the washing powder and conditioner, so multi use and hoping this will be great!

I bought Lavender essential oil and it does seem to mix well with the vinegar smell, this same mixture can be used for cleaning the shower daily too so once we run out of shower spray I will be mixing this concoction again! Better for the environment and hopefully as efficient.

Update: Have been using this a month now, and so far so good. We added a little more water to our mix, still works great!

UFM Challenge- thoughts and first few emails!

So I figured I would give myself some rules regarding this. I understand the premise is to be super frugal, which I guess my mind is still rallying against!

With regards to clothes- there is no need to buy any as it stands. Exceptions to the rule: If I find a perfect dress for the Wedding I am attending in New York in June, I am a big girl, clothes in my size aren’t available in charity shops, especially locally- unless it’s clothes I donated! So I often shop online. Only item I technically need is a beautiful dress to wear for the Wedding, which will be in Central Park! The other exception: to replace items that have worn through, this month I am thinking I won’t need to, unless I wear the back of my trainers out again- I do this a lot! I wear trainers often and buy new ones from discount stores for around £30 or less, I always seem to struggle with rubbing the back of the heel section away which results in blisters! These current trainers are from before September 2019, which saw them getting me around Disney and Universal Studios, they are more than cost effective now!

I want to try and get 20 No Spend Days this month, I used to do this regularly on moneysavingexpert forums. It is a helpful way to curb spending and feels like an achievement in itself! Things that are not included as a spend: when we go away or the house account pays for something- it is a personal spending challenge not a joint one. We go away for a few days in a couple of weeks, the house will pay for all this as that is what we do with holidays, so unless we personally spend anything, I will include these as personal non spend days. It is amazing how often I buy things without thinking, it is the 3rd Jan and today will be the first day I dont spend any money, on the 1st I found the possible perfect dress- preordered so technically not paid for yet, and it may look awful so not a guarenteed spend as it could go back! Yesterday I had to put fuel in my car, today is the decided takeaway day for the next two weeks, that one is house account money, therefore today can be my 1st non spend day of the month! Ouch! Also, gas money wasn’t taken, she apologised as they had been busy and she shredded my order before processing- so they are going to try and deliver today. So that will be coming out today instead of last year- again it is house account so not a personal spend, but still makes you think! I don’t include direct debits from my account as a spend day, and if I got cash out I would class that as a spend day, but if that money is spent on another day I wouldn’t include that. Some folks would include any and all spending as a spend day, other people, like myself, have some leeway! I will keep you all updated on my progress!

I will be engaging in some Tilly Tidying (TT)- another term found due to the moneysavingexpert forums, founded by a wonderful lady called Tilly! It is the art of rounding down! Very simple and effective. I am wanting to build an emergency fund at the moment, so as this month we are heading away, I have decided to Tilly Tidy the house account after any money goes out from it, keeping it nice and tidy and rounded to the nearest whole number and move it into a little account to build up. I have aggressively TT’d so far, so I am hoping I won’t need to move any back! I moved the money we are no longer spending on the Zoo, Life Insurance and my RCN magazine straight away, we are up to £150 plus a few pennies at the moment and only three days in. This isnt a busy account generally speaking.

We are making an effort to meal plan and cook, on New Years Day I made soup, fish pie and bread. The bread came out a bit funky, but edible, the soup is yummy and the fish pie was very tasty and did us for tea that day and lunch the next. Soup was frozen and I defrosted it for my long days but wasn’t great at actually eating it as very busy!

Day 1 email from the frugalwoods- this is the homework I had already completed so that was easy! Payed for a preordered dress- spend day!

Day 2 email: This was future planning, again I had already done this in the homework, brilliant, especially as working a long day means not a lot of time to think! Paid for fuel- spend day!

Day 3 email: Fighting impulse buys- do not buy any non essential items for 72hours. This makes a lot of sense and helps with the non spend day ideas too. She breaks it down to- write down, or leave in the basket the item you want to buy, allow 72 hours to pass. Consider if you really need it? What could you do with the money? Do you own something that would suffice? Could you find it cheaper? Could you borrow it from a friend? After the alloted time, re-evaluate how you feel about the item, do you still want it? Mantra- I have the willpower to wait! No spend day!

Day 4- I have lost this one! Can’t find it in my trash either…I am sure I read it! No spend day!

Day 5- This is all about grocery shopping, an area I have already highlighted as a problem areas for us! I have been meal planning more, then actually trying to make sure I cook what I have said! Too many complex foods last week though. I shopped yesterday, this was hubby’s shop but he has been working away and I think I did a good job of thinking of more simple meals that we can do which are tasty and some healthyness! I paid about £60 and this included wine for me and wine I will be taking to my parents on the weekend when we get our food cooked for us. My stepmum is an amazing cook, this will be better than any restaurant fair! No spend day!

Day6- Know where your money is! This has got hubby to download an app, that I may also download! The one on frugalwoods is american, so he found a british version-when I find the name I will let you know! I haven’t worked out our net worth, I am not sure to what end that would help? My monthly wage varies depending on 4 or 5 week months, but I know what they tend to be! The only interest we are paying is for the mortgage and the car, unlike the mortgage, the car is set and no matter when we pay it the interest is the same. Credit cards are 0%. With regards to pensions, I pay into a basic one, to be honest, they don’t seem the best….I did discuss increasing my paments but nest and work seemed unhelpful and I wondered if it is really the best place for my money? Investing confuses me, I won’t lie. I will continue to look into this to see if I can work it out! No spend day!

Day 7- About mobile phone costs, as part of the homework I had indentified this, and after visiting Vodafone I have now got the same deal for £11 a month, we have pants signal where I live and we already have a vodafone signal enhancy thing, so this is best price given that! Did buy food shop, but it is actually other halves shop, so he will pay me back- technical non spend day!

Day8- Is your partner on board? Yes he is, we have always discussed money and made choices together. We work well in that way most of the time, though we can also talk each other into buying things!haha. He is enjoying this challenge as he recognises that he isn’t the best with his money and feels this can be improved upon! He does want the mortgage gone, but tends to leave the other bits, including overpayments to me! So far no spend day….

So today is day 8, pay day yesterday, I am up to 5 non spend days, quarter of the way there! 5/20. Watch this space for today, I do NEED earring backs but might be able to hold off a bit longer. My current earrings are making my ears sore, and my previous earrings have lost there back…tut tut! I have reached £25 on Onepoll today so that will be working its way over slowly!

What gets the chop?

So, as part of Uber Frugal Month (UFM), I made a list of payments we make monthly. It is hard to look at what we pay for, and break it down into the bare bones, rather than the joy it can give! Kon Mari my spending!haha. Writing everything down has allowed time for hubby and I to read over and discuss what we spend money on, whether it is important and what to change.

I am looking to change my Sim only deal, I pay £14+ a month and it isn’t great really. Nosing on MoneySaving Expert Sim Only Deals it is clear there are a lot of options! It is frustrating to see vodafone offering great deals to newbies, will have to see what they will offer a long time customer, if they won’t I will happily jump ship! Have gotten all irritated over this get new customers and sod the old!Haha.

We have concluded we will cancel the zoo membership, we are not making use of it and £13.75 adds up over the year! I will get on this ASAP and see if it can be cancelled before Jan payment!- Now cancelled!

We are chatting a lot about the life insurance and critical illness cover, we have no dependents, if one of us died, it would be nice not to have to pay the mortgage. But the current cost is way too high, we could afford the mortgage on one wage, but it would be darn tight! But, this is why we are doing the UFM challenge! I think we have concluded we will cancel it and hope we don’t die anytime soon. -I have cancelled mine, hubby will cancel his next week!

I am now on the lookout for a better current account, the 123 account used to be great, we got 3% interest over 3k and cashback, which more than covered the £5 account fee. Now the interest is 1.59%, we don’t get a lot of cashback really- we are on bottled gas, no cashback for this! Internet goes from hubbies account etc. I may see what happens when we move a small chunk of savings back in, just in case…

I have put the wheels in motion to cancel my mental health magazine, I am pretty sure this is over £7 a month, though a very interesting magazine it isn’t as relevant anymore and I can access the articles online if I desire. Will remain a member of the union though as it offers insurance and support if anything goes wrong.-Now cancelled!

Reading up about cancelling the TV licence, I could definitely live without BBC. But want to check on the ins and outs so I don’t get fined! We don’t have an aeriel to the downstairs TV, and even though IPLAYER is on the TV, we can ignore it in order to not pay £154.50 for the year. Sorry BBC, you are ok, but not worth it in comparisson to Primes £79 a year and free next day delivery as well as shows…

We have no choice with regards to heating, we have no main gas to the house- no one in the area does- oil and gas will often change in costs, I prefer the look of gas bottles to an oil tank aesthetically, and with our narrow drive, I am not sure a tanker would fit! We are trialing turning the heating down from 20c to 19, then maybe 18- this is the new recommended temp apparently! We have underfloor heating, it is best that temp is maintained for cost effectiveness, we have it on a timer all day with the thermostat set, then off overnight as I hate getting too hot in bed. We only have radiators upstairs and the temp is only on 3, which is enough at the moment. The only way to improve on this is to look at green options, at this time we don’t have the funds, but would be happy to do this in the future.

Hubby recently changed over the electric company to the best we can get, the ways to improve on this is to use less electric! We aren’t daft, so have all energy efficient bulbs, our appliances are efficient, we turn things off at the walls, have a super efficient kettle, our cooker runs from gas (expensive!haha) and try to make sure we don’t leave lights on.

The water costs are what they are, it is difficult as we have an acre of land, in the summer it is hard as I want to water the garden and plants once the water butts are empty there is no choice! Next year we plan on adding gutters and water butts to the chickens run to help save more water. We already have some around the stable/shed though one got broken so needs replacing. We will fill buckets with water in the summer when we are waiting for the shower to warm up as a way to water plants more cheaply! Also fans of, if it is yellow let it mellow 😉

Council tax is what it is, we are in the right bracket, it is paid over 10/11 months, think it is 11! Need to double check.

The credit card is 0% until the end of 2020, I am not worried about this and will TART it to a 0% transfer card when the time comes. The link to Money Saving Expert shows the best deals, but also soft searches to tell you what card you are likely eligible for and the percentage of acceptance. The minimum payments seem a lot more on my card than hubby’s card- he has his truck balance left on his (he will have saved to pay it off when it becomes chargeable- so not worried), but his minimum payment is half what mine is! Not a problem though, as it means my balance will be a lot less when I have to tart it! I have no plans to use this card again now holidays are planned and costed out. So will be removing debt every month!

Car and House insurance is reviewed yearly and paid in full if applicable! I am paying monthly car but paid house in full last year. I am happy I shopped around and got the best deals!

We are going to work out what we are paying for dog medications, food etc as we go into 2020, we already buy a cheaper version of the dogs supplements- same ingredients, buy Red’s main medication from human pharmacy-so not much trimming room with regards to the furbabies.

We have approx 2 years remaining on our loan with which we bought the car, this is £180 a month- doesn’t matter if we pay it off early, interest is part of the repayment so doesn’t save any money. We got a really good deal on the loan when we took it out, I think it is around 1k we will pay on 10k over 5 years- rough estimate off the top of my head! Checked dates, paid for the car 16/09/2016, so less than 2 years to go!

Biggest personal savings will be on food bills I think, we really need to meal plan, but then actually make the meals as well! When I meal planned last time, I spent £57 on a weeks food shop, this included booze! I will sit hubby down at some point to make a plan of meals, including lunches at work. This will also see us having two weekly takeaways :0

Having cancelled Mental Health Magazine, Life Insurance and Zoo, we are up £81.05 in the first month of 2020! Let us see where this journey takes us!

2020 Mortgage Goals

I have upped the overpayment back to £250, we should have enough for New York and that was the only big expense left really, therefore back to overpaying the full amount we can afford!

According to Money Saving Expert’s mortgage calculator, based on our current mortgage of £152,475 with 24years to run, we will pay £39,227 in interest over the remainder of the mortgage. By the end of 2020, our mortgage would stand at: £147,459 and we would be mortgage free by 2044.

It is good to know, so I can play with the overpayment calculator and find out what the overpayments will do!

So, with our regular overpayment of £250 a month, starting on January 1st 2020, we would pay £25,966 in interest, saving £13,261. We would be at £144,432 by the end of 2020, this would be paid off in 16 years- 2036. This seems like a great achievement long term!

Though I would like to have paid off 10k, you know, just to round this off nicely!

So I added 2k as a one off overpayment in December 2020, it would save us an extra £700 over the life of the mortgage, end date would be 2035, a year earlier.

And out of curiosity, I added a one off payment of £4500, this would take us into the 140’s at the end of 2020. We would pay off the mortgage in 15 years, same as the 2k one off payment though would be saving an extra £1610 in interest!

In reality, I think that the 2k may be managable, the 4500 not so much, maybe if all we did was overpay it might work but we have other things to save and do next year! Hubby is happy with the £250 overpayments, so I would have to see about anything extra!

What is frugality?

When I think of the word frugal, I won’t lie, I do automatically think of negatives such as going without, being tight fisted and being unhappy. I fully believe this is due to the world we live in being so materialistic and equating spending with happiness, or at least the awareness that when you buy something it can make you feel good, even for a moment. I fall into the trap quite often of living for the future, not in the moment. Once I buy this, once I do that, once this is achieved I will feel safe/secure/happy etc etc. Though if I break things down, I have lots of great things already, our home is amazing, for the budget we have it is as perfect as it is going to get! Yes, it does need things doing to it, some painting, tiles in the kitchen and little touch ups here and there, and perhaps some things are not to our taste, but they are fully functionable! I dislike the kitchen, but I would not replace it anytime soon as it is in great condition and functions well. One day, when we have used it to death, perhaps I can get the dream kitchen! I also have lots of clothes, if I am honest, the only clothes I may need anytime soon are: new work trousers, I wear these out! Hopefully not for a few months though and I will need new work trainers/shoes soon, I have started to wear the backs out, and as I do 12 hour shifts on my feet, they have to comfy! I do wear out trainers as I spend a lot of time in them, I tend to buy end of the line trainers from SportsDirect and they last 6-12months depending on my use. I could really do with walking boots, but I really struggle to find any that are comfortable, I get blisters on my feet so easily which is frustrating.

I looked up the definition of frugal:

1.  Practising economy, living without waste, being thrifty

2. Not costly, meagre

These are not negatives, in fact quite the opposite, who wouldn’t want to be economic, without waste and thrifty? And if I think about what is important to me: hubby, dogs, family, chickens, roof over our heads, garden, quietness, travel and feeling secure, these can all be achieved without being a spendthrift!

I have been watching Buying and Selling on ITV- I am sure it was Property Brothers when we used to have Sky! I enjoy watching house shows, I find it interesting and exciting to watch transformations, but this show is all based around consumerism, I want bigger, more expensive therefore technically better! We are a fascinating species!

I like to try and be a green person, I want to help the environment and am always interested in learning about new ways we can do that. Being less wasteful would be a huge help to the environment, eating better food, feeling more productive and hopefully achieving more as I feel better. We recently Kon Marie’d the house- freaking loved the show on Netflix! We charity shopped so many clothes it was crazy, then I have been slowly re-filling the wardrobes and drawers with new clothes, defeating the whole point!haha. I think I will look at re-doing this in the new year, emptying all the drawers etc and going through my clothes to see what gives me joy! This way I will also get the chance to see what clothes I actually own, and how much I don’t need to spend. I think clothes are an area I am spending too much and on things I don’t ‘need’. In January, I shouldn’t need to buy any clothes, though I may want too!

I have been researching making my own cleaning solutions and washing powder. I will continue to look into this and see if it is feasible for us to get going with this aspect of frugality and also being green! We will use whatever cleaners we already have to not waste anything!

Watch this space for more brain farts about January’s challenge!!