Uber Frugal Month, Days 1-6

Firstly, Happy New Year!

Now on to the main reason I am here- Day 1 is about reviewing the homework, or completing it if needed which I have already done, well done me!

Day 2 is to focus on your long term goals, therefore you can ask yourself, ‘Do I want to buy the new Sims game, or do I want to achieve my goal’. As we know I am flaky about long term goals and am still working on this, but having no debt and knocking the mortgage right down are definate goals! I mean, I haven’t spent the money on my op yet so that is nice, but as soon as it is paid I think it will ignite me to be more specific on spending/saving.

Day 3 focuses on managing impulse spending by waiting 72hours between wanting something and actually buying it, giving us time to evaluate if we really want something. So far this month, I have paid £18.80 in customs for dresses I bought last year, spent £30 on presents for my best friend and her new baby, and £70 on new fencing as my dogs are at war with the new dogs across the way which is just so annoying and anxiety provoking. Oh and we have had to pay £106 for gas bottles as we have ran out. Already an expensive month, oops! Hubby paid for food shop and it was £60 which is about £15 less than normal. My plan is to wait 72hours before all purchases- I do have my eye on a cheap treadmill at the moment so will see how it goes! I have wanted a treadmill for many months now as I love walking, but sometimes I just want to stay in with the dogs (they are arthritic so minimal walking these days), I will step out in my lounge but it isn’t the same! So a treadmill won’t be an impulse buy at least, and I am waiting for a good deal. Mrs Frugalwoods points out that when waiting the 72hours, consider if you really need it, calculate what else you could do with the money, can you alter something you already own, can you get it cheaper- ah facebook market place!- and finally could you borrow it from a friend. So many good points, it is pay day tomorrow so I will be using this as a good start point to practice this. I have also tried to be careful up until now but as I just proved I have still been spending :0

Day 4 looks at food shopping, Mrs Frugalwoods asks, do you eat everything you buy? I won’t lie, I am not always the best at this side of things, but we did a meal plan and food shop so this week we have been doing well so far. We do food shop weekly, and use Aldi unless we need something we cannot get from there- Vimto is a need when on offer! I have also decided to not drink alcohol as my surgery means I cannot anyway. We are not very good at bulk cooking, but try to plan easy quick meals when I am working as I get home late, and I don’t mind a tiny bit more complex on my days off and more complex again when we are both off if we want! Though cooking isn’t really our thing. We won’t be buying take out, I won’t be allowed/able after surgery and in these weeks working towards surgery I have to follow a strict plan. Freezing food isn’t something we do often, but I have been advised that before the op I should freeze food as I wont have the energy or inclination initially. Also, we normally eat all our food on our plates so left over food is rare! I do need to have a very good look at the Liver Reduction Diet that I start on Saturday for two weeks to make sure that I meal plan correctly.

Day 5 looks at our discretionary spends, Mrs Frugalwoods says that we should times monthly discretionary costs by 12 to work out yearly costs, and see how much you might earn if you invested it instead. I am not very with it when it comes to investing, I don’t really understand the process and have looked several times but not taken the first step. I probably should! I think this time round I will focus more on this area, and try to make some effort! This is a good article that I am reading to help with this from Mrs Fruglawoods.

So today, day 6, is about organising your finances. Tracking monthly spending, knowing your monthly net income (mine does vary due to length of the month some are 4 weeks some are 5 weeks), you need to know what you owe and you need to know what you own. As suggested by money saving expert and Mrs Frugalwoods, always try to pay your highest debts down first, focus on the interest rather than monthly cost. So, as it stands I have a £5k loan with a set cost, therefore nothing to be saved from paying it off quickly as such, I will have about £4k on a 0% credit card for 18months, it probably makes sense to try and pay this off first as after 18months (though I plan to tart the card to not pay any fees) the APR is 18%. The loan is set to take 5 years to pay off and I have already had it since August 2020. I have about £2.5k saved but as I have said before, I don’t know how long I will be off work so want the cash to cover any unforeseen time off so I can pay my bills. Whatever is left when I get back to work I will pay off. I also will be able to save a chunk of my wage tomorrow as it was a 5 week month, and I get some extra moolah for bank holidays. The next step is to create an Emergency Fund- we have £1k left in our emergency fund now as we paid off some debts last year. Mrs Frugalwoods talks about saving for retirement- my work pension is a basic one and the outlook is poor, when I tried to increase payments, both my work and the pension people were totally unhelpful so I pay the usual amount in. Not really sure what else I can do here? And finally she talks about investing, it is on my to-do list I promise!

I am expecting a call from the dietician to discuss my pre op diet later today, she just called to see if I am free, exciting but nerve wracking. Need to re read the plan so I can make sure I have all my questions ready. I will also have a good look at my personal savings after pay day and money dance on my next day off, look at how much I still owe on the loan and work out when I need to pay for the surgery! I still need to book and pay for the dentist too, bah!

Uber Frugal Month Challenge 2021 More Homework…

Step 3: Categorize your expenses and Step 4: What can I eliminate entirely?

So Mrs Frugalwoods says that our spending all fits in to two catagories: Fixed Mandatory and Discretionary. She is very clear that we do not include groceries here, so my mandatory expenses are: mortgage, electric, gas, water, car insurance, house insurance. Not much there really!

My Discretionary spends are: everything we spend on the dogs and chickens, technically a fixed spend as we buy good quality foods in the cheapest way possible. Dogs medications, we get them as cheap as possible but one medication Red has is £120 for 6months not including vet app and prescription. We have to buy it from human pharmacies as our vets no longer supply it and it is actually cheaper than from the vets! The dogs also have supplements, inflamation and pain meds which are not expensive. I spend £16.40 on being with the RCN and they are my protection if anything bad happens when I am nursing. Fuel costs for the car, these are variable and I am unsure how far a full tank goes on the new car so will monitor this. Food shopping- this is normally £70-90 a week, never seems a lot of food but always costs, I will be stopping drinking alcohol for at least 6 months after my op and hubby doesn’t drink so that will be a saving, also my food intake will be a lot smaller and we won’t be buying takeaways at all initially/forever. I will be meal planning before my food shop on Sat, where I will be starting my Liver Reduction Diet- low cal, low carb and low amazing food I love!- for three weeks leading up to the operation.

We don’t pay monthly for the car insurance, it is paid in full as is the road tax for both cars. We don’t pay monthly for the house insurance that is paid in full. So that is good. Last year we stopped a few payments and I am still moving the £80 saved into the savings monthly. I got hubby to cancel my lonely planet subscription as it has changed to another mag during covid which is not as good, I have spent money on a rubbish game on my phone as I get sucked into it, massive waste of money on reflection and this will stop. I have bought a new book by Dr Chatterjee which has just been released about managing weight and how multilayered this is a thing so should be good reading. I will need to pay a large amount of money to have work done on one of my teeth as I am no longer under the NHS and no where local is taking on, I managed to chip the tooth so need the work doing sooner rather than later. I will need new work trainers soon, but will wait until after my op as only have 4 shifts left in work. So need to spend should be minimal until all my clothes are too big :0 and then I should be able to find clothes in second hand shops :0 exciting! I will continue buying hair dye at about £5 a bottle, does vary as can be on offer and I do have preferred shampoo and conditioner that I buy on offer. I can’t think of anything else except for joint spends, and we have done a good job of wearing these down last time and haven’t added anything else since then so I will look at this but am hopeful it is all good!

Step 5: Embrace the art of substitution, Step 6: Reduce spending on discretionary expenses, Step 7: Empower yourself to insource! Step 8: Examine your habits, Step 9: Plan ahead, Step 10: If you do buy stuff, get it used (or cheap!), Step 11: Banish excuses.

I felt I would put all these steps in one heading as I can cover them all within the next section rather than under each heading. Within substitution, I already dye my own hair rather than pay a hairdresser, but I do have my haircut by a hairdresser once every 6months or so at a cost of £15. I love walking and spending time in the garden and could easily do more of this if I plan my time better. Mrs Frugalwoods does a whole section on how to frugalise your groceries, and many other articles on food and money management that it will be worth reading over. I need to read more about my pre op diet requirements and expectations of food after to start to change the way I buy food. We don’t really pay for any outsourcing, except for specialist services like the gas boiler. We have been able to do most things between us- mostly hubby he is the doer and we have become more adept at insourcing. But time is always a constraint as we both work full time so we have to judge this all together if something needs urgently fixing. We recently removed the downstairs shower and plan to put storage in its space, but there is no rush so we have time to think and plan before we have a go ourselves. On the other hand the concrete floor in our lounge is cracking in places, this won’t be a job we can do and do well, so will be outsourced at some point!

I think I will start making a note of habits I have, I rarely buy drinks on the go, I tend to make my own drinks and take juice to work, but I could do better with my work food which links in with better planning really. It is a habit to always buy snacks and biscuits, this is something we can stop- hubby can have biscuits in his car if he wants! I think I also need to work on distracting myself from having my day revolve around food going forward. Work on making my days more focused and structured. Meal planning is a greatly under used tool in this house and will be focused on more, including making meals and freezing them. I will keep an eye open for gifts throughout the year rather than waiting until we need to buy things. I love marketplace on facebook and keep an eye out for anything I want on there to try and make it more cost effective. I have found a lady on youtube who is ‘fabulous 50’s’- I am not 50 for another 17years- but her workouts are free and set at a level I can follow and feel I have exercised. I need to work out if my teenhood bicycle can be fixed or if I should look out for another one as I would like to get into cycling. Whenever an excuse pops up as to why I can’t do something, I need to really think about it and what the excuse is and what it means, is there a real issue or just complacency and fear of change?

So, in conclusion, I feel terrified of surgery, but feel it is my only option now, it is worth the fear to have a more fulfilling life. Therefore all of this other stuff should fade in contrast with the fear of surgery and not being able to eat even solid food for over a month! I feel that I have tried to do small changes for so long, that this year I am going to be dramatic and do big, bad changes that will hopefully be genuinely life changing!

Ending this with genuine trepidation!!

Uber Frugal Month 2021 Homework continued…

So I have read the article I mentioned in my last post, it is interesting as I feel conflicted, having not completed the suggested work of writing out a dream bio, but thinking about it instead. I kinda wanna carry on with Dementia nursing, I don’t hate my job, it doesn’t make me stressed (well, it does because looking after humans does that), I actually, genuinely, love my residents and I have a great staff team who are all such hardworking, lovely people. But in a dream world, I want my own doggy hotel, a lovely posh place for a small amount of doggies, especially Staffies who are super dear to my heart as a misunderstood breed, where we can offer stress free homes to dogs whilst their owners are on a lovely vacay somewhere. It feels like a complete pipe dream to be honest, plus I trained for three years and have worked for triple that as a nurse (plus a few), so surely carrying on makes sense? Who knows! Anyways….homework!

Step 2: Review last month’s spending

I don’t want to….I was really silly in December, I spent silly money on things…I dont want to be held accountable! Ok, I will work backwards- £8.97 to the dogs trust, thats ok, I am happy to pay that! £17.49, that was for the latest sims 4 expansion, half price and definately fun so far, so maybe not frugal but I am not ashamed! £7.19 at subway, this is a weird, after surgery I wont be able to eat this any more moment, so totally a waste! £5.27 on costa, a specialty hot choc and orange choc muffin…yes, wasteful. £4.79 on hair dye, totally worth it, I am not ready for these grays yet! £23.30 takeaway pizza- no judgements!! £6.99 on a stupid phone game- yes I am embarassed…£6.25 on wine in Sainsbobs…£100.50 on Christmas shop in Aldi including a lovely tablecloth! Worth it sorry! £20 cash for nephews birthday. £7.36 for lunch for work and snacks, covered two lunches. £46.10 on Christmas bits from Asda, not really worth it! £20 animal angels- worth it, locking a lovely dog sitter in too look after the dogs in Sept covid allowing, a large expenditure in reality, but so worth the peace of mind from someone looking after the house, dogs and chickens (£500 for two weeks, most already paid for two cancelled hols). £90.63 for two items of clothing from Blackmilk in a size 16 for after op…clothes were on offer and amazing looking, wont be the only charge from this shop, £2.49 charge because it is from Australia. Oops. £43.24 for fuel, 14th Dec- still have two bars left on my car! £46 Amazon- gifts. £25 paid for a chance to win a house, whilst raising money for the BHF. £23.40 another takeaway… £43.20 on buying two lots of completely recyclable toothbrushes, whilst donating the same amount of toothbrushes and planting trees. £10.40 amazon- maybe a gift? £59.90 and £1.64 for another item from Blackmilk and fee as from Australia… £59.86 food shop. £12 Sainsbobs, wine. £11.25 two butties from the butty shop. £25.80 pizza takeaway…£15 oxfam- present and small donation. £17.27 vodafone bill. £30.57 brownies delivery- very very tasty, maybe supporting a small business? Or a total waste of money? This doesn’t include joint spending as this is separate and we just send ourselves the money so not always clear what has been spent on what. Total spend: £ 791.86

Wows, I mean this isnt’t a totally normal month thank god but still insanely spendy and would have totally helped my surgery payment if I had held on and been more careful, and November is probs worse as I bought most of Christmas then!

Oush, thanks UFM for making me do this, it was particulary painful!

Uber Frugal Month 2021 Homework

I completed the Uber Frugal Month Challenge (UFM) in 2020 with some really positive behaviours which have slipped during this crazy year, and due to deciding to have bariatric surgery, I will be entering February 2021 with personal debt of nearly £10k which I have never had before in my life! Though mine and hubby’s personal debt is now only the mortgage- we have paid off the car loan, bought a new second car outright (for a bargain) and paid off our credit card this year. Hubby has changed jobs and this one is much less money than his previous job, though he is so much happier which is the most important thing, meaning we have a little less money to play with than previous years. We have adapted to the reduction- we lowered the mortgage OP to £50 from £250 and paid off the car loan ‘saving’ £200, meaning we haven’t had to miss the larger wage too much!

One problem I have is that I do love things, hence the title of the blog being aiming for the good life, as I am not quite sure what that actually looks like, but I am trying to head in the right direction. Also, holidays, man I love holidays! I am working on creating a frugal lifestyle which incorporates holidays! Right, homework!

Step 1: Establish your goals

  1. Why are you participating in this challenge? This is quite simple, I am entering this year with the largest personal debt I have ever personally had and it is scary! We made some great headway this year in reducing our joint debt and starting to rebuild our savings, the mortgage OP’s have taken a hit, but for hubby’s sanity that is worth it. Anyway, back to this challenge, I want to set myself up to start to repay this loan- £5k loan and credit card on 0%- £3.7k plus some tooth work at £720 (freaking ouch in more ways than one). I do have about £2.5k in savings but want to keep this until I am healthy and back at work as I am unsure how long I will need off and will be on sick pay for. I am using just under 3 weeks of annual leave so that is very helpful. I did some great work last challenge, and want to get back into it!
  2. What do you hope to achieve? I want to feel back in control of my money, and I don’t want to use spending as a replacement to eating after my operation which could easily happen! At the end of Jan I would like to be able to save extra money, to feel reasured that I can smash my personal debt as quick as possible! To add all this together into making a Jodie who is more focused on looking ater herself in a variety of ways.
  3. What are your longterm life goals? I won’t lie, I am not great at long term planning as such, I am not good at future thinking and planning apart from holidays! I mean my goals could be broken down, professionally- get my NVQ level 5 in management, my manager has requested this for me and hopefully it will be agreed. I would like to do a Masters in Dementia but this is quite costly and wouldn’t really benefit work, but it is a personal interest. I would like to consider perhaps looking at becoming a Deputy Manager, maybe, but also am not sure I want to go into management either! Personally- To have my bariatric op and use this tool to become more comfortable in my own skin and to be able to enjoy the adventurous things I want to do but am too heavy for. To fit comfortably in my car without the steering wheel touching my tummy, to be able to bend and touch my feet without difficulty, to be able to walk distances- which I can already do- with ease comparatively. To aim to walk a few half marathons, I have done one previously and it was so hard, would like to manage this with much less difficulty. To carry on loving my hubby and pups and having great friends and family. Mostly vague!haha.
  4. Where do you want to be in 5 years? In 10 years? This is like the above goals again! Ummmm, debt free would be good, in 10years getting close to mortgage free would be great, a healthy weight, active and doing lots of fun stuff, hiking, paddleboarding and zip lining to start! Maybe be in management in nursing, maybe having a small business on the side, still rescuing animals and travelling. Building up great savings, living a frugal life.
  5. What about your current lifestyle might prevent those goals from happening and what can you do about it? My weight will get in the way, but hopefully with bariatric surgery this will help this goal. Debt free boils down to me being more money savvy and frugal, so that boils down to me again! So really me and my lifestyle could all get in the way, plus my uncertainty about what I actually want and in what kind of timeline I want to achieve it.

And on that note Mrs Frugalwoods has written an article about the very areas I struggle with so off I go for a read!

October 2020 Mortgage Round Up

We roll into autumn/halloween/October 2020 with local lockdowns and more crappy news. One thing that isn’t crappy, is the mortgage is still reducing, woohoo!

As of the 1st October my mortgage is: £146,387

Last month saw us at: £146,846

That is a reduction in capital: £459

This is with the OP of £50, so fingers crossed we will be in the £145’s in November!

Take care out there!

Debt busting!

Last night we paid off our credit card! £3800.88 of debt, poof, gone!

We decided to use the money we had saved for New York to do this, as we have no idea when we will be going, but also, I don’t think we will be doing a big road trip if we do go next year. We have no idea if the Wedding we were due to attend out there will be squeezed in next year or not, but I know the bride to be doesn’t like the cold so it would likely be in/after June 21 if it were to happen. We should be able to save £2k by then and we have a voucher for the previous flights so will only need a hotel and spends.

So in a couple of months, we have managed to pay off our car- approx £2700 and our credit card! I still have the 5k loan (untouched) and hubby has a long lasting 0% credit card for his truck. So those two and the house are now the only debt we have. Probably equating to £8.5k.

It feels good to know that what we have saved so far this year enabled us to have paid off two debts. Due to hubby’s job change we aren’t able to roll the saved payments into any other debts, the £100 I spent on the card can go over to the house, but the car is part of the loss if income from the new lower wage. I am interested to see what his first wage will look like and how it will affect our savings/outgoings. We have money set aside for the cars MOT and Service in Oct, I have paid the house insurance in full and we are doing ok.

We have our holiday booked in Jan to Florida- everything crossed that this will go ahead, we have fully refundable car hire paid, hotel paid, transferable flights and disney tickets so worst case we should be able to rearrange. Would be sad though! No holidays planned this year, just some pottering out as we are still being very careful with Covid.

Stay safe!

Mortgage Update- September 2020

As of the 1st September 2020 our mortgage stands at:

£146,846

Knocking £408 off the capital this month, not bad going considering this was with our reduced OP of £50. This indicates it will be every third month we will drop into a new thousand bracket. Would have liked to continue the bigger OP especially as now I can check the mortgage online and monitor the capital, nevermind! Life is always up and down!

Take care everyone!

Mortgage Round up for the year!

Gosh, I can’t believe that it has been another year in mortgage world! Received our years breakdown and I do like the look of what progress we have made in this time. Overpayments have varied, as life is never straight forward but overall we are seeing big reductions in the mortgage especially compared to when we first got this mortgage- the interest made up 3/4 of the monthly payment, my goodness that was a painful time!

In December I wrote a post about my plans for the mortgage, including projections on how OPs will shape it. As of the 1st August 2020 the mortgage stood at £147,254. The projection I made in December 2019, based on moneysavingexpert’s mortgage overpayment calculator, was – £147,459 by December 2020. So I am very very pleased to see that the OPs previously made meant we hit that 4months early!

So here is what we have achieved this past year:

£10,201.76 has been paid to the mortgage

£3,193.04 of which was in interest

£7,008.72 of which was capital

Based on the current mortgage balance and rate, another year with no OPs will see our mortgage stand at: £142,607 in August 2021. As it stands, we are still making a small OP of £50, this still makes a noticeable difference long term. We will pay the mortgage off 2years and 2months earlier, saving £4352 over the lifetime of the mortgage. In a year the mortgage would be: £142,001 knocking 601 pounds off the morgage in a year. That doesn’t sound as good as when we paid more, but it is better than nothing and over time makes a big difference. And you never know, we might be able to increase those payments again soon! 🙂

August 2020- Mortgage update!

So, after Tesco decided to stop mortgages and popped us over to Halifax, I have finally managed to logon, reduce the OP- sadly necessary- and find out where our current balance is at! We haven’t stopped the OP, just reduced it from £250 to £50. This means we will be paying £716.72 a month, we can also stop the £50 if needed at any time.

So, drumroll please! Our current mortgage stands at:

£147,254

I am very hopeful to get back into regular updates about the mortgage now I have got access again!

Take care everyone!

Lose one debt and gain another!

So in exciting news, we paid off the car loan last week and recieved confirmation in the post yesterday. We will be getting £56 back, and possibly £186 as we paid that as well as the whole balance, the person on the phone was unsure if it had been counted or not.

So we own our car outright! It doesn’t save us any interest as it was a set sum, but it’s nice to know it’s gone! Hubby has his new job and this means that he won’t have to pay the car anymore and goes someway to help with the fact he will be earning about £400 less a month. We will also, sadly, be reducing the mortgage overpayments to £50 until we get used to the reduction in wages, and then hopefully we can play around a bit and increase it again. That is another £200 less to find so this and the car loan should cover the loss of earnings.

So, whilst we have removed the car loan, I have got a £5k personal loan as I am going to have a gastric balloon fitted to help me with my weight loss issues. Part of me wonders if I should just bite the bullet and have the gastric bypass, but that is life altering (and over double the price) and if I can have the balloon and learn to change my eating behaviours (this company offers 18months psychological support) then I won’t need the surgery. That is my plan anyway. And I can afford my loan and pay a small chunk off the credit card every month, without it impacting on the house account or Hubby’s contribution.

So one giant step forward for the car, one small step forward with the mortgage and a step backward getting a personal loan- but ultimately if it can help me with my eating issues, then it will be money well invested.

Take care everyone!

Jodie