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!

Uber Frugal Challenge Homework, step 8-11

Examine your habits!

I know that purchading food is one of my big downfalls, I love food, I overeat, I struggle with my weight- that could be a blog on its own! I work 12 hour shifts, I struggle to prepare food in time for my shift, I struggle to decide on what foods to eat, this can often result in buying pre made food for ease and convenience. Also, grocery shopping in itself is expensive, we often feel we have no meals and will eat rubbish to compensate. I feel a large area to turn this around is part of the Frugal Challenge. I already meal planned then went shopping, this usually costs around £90, and paid £77 which included a £20 giant teddy for the dogs at Christmas! Felt like a good shop and I thought ahead about what we may need. Today, I made a mushroom soup, and it is in the thermos ready for work tomorrow, I think I will take bread and butter, or a sandwich, as well as a yogurt, some fruit and a oat pot! This could be cheaper if I used oats instead of prepackaged. I don’t get home until nearly nine so makes it difficult with regards to tea time etc, plus work is busy and usually we have access to cakes! I need to learn more about healthy snacks and getting food that will actually fill me, and satisfy me! Stress is a common feeling when you are a Nurse, I work in Dementia care, it can be a very upsetting and stressful place, because you care so much, so my emotional eating is often triggered, this spills into the drive home, popping to the shop or snacking when I get in. Sometimes, when you start to breakdown a habit, behaviour and choice, it can become overwhelming to try and think how else do I cope with those feelings without food? Again, probably another post!

Step 9- Plan Ahead!

I really feel this will be beneficial, if I plan and act ahead of shifts, I will have food and snacks, this will hopefully have a positive impact on other areas of my life including finances. I enjoy fruit and vegetables, but am so bad at actually eating them! So, planning ahead would allow for more consumption made easy. Given the choice, a chocolate bar or an apple, I would always pick the chocolate, give me a cut up apple I can pick at whilst quickly catching up on notes in the office and it will be consumed! Days off are hit and miss, sometimes I just want food, comfort food, lots of food, can’t stop thinking about food, other days I feel able to make some alright choices around food. This all links in really, self esteem, emotions, are all disguised and hidden when you eat or buy food! Might be a long road….

On Money Saving Expert, I used to join in the No Spend Day challenge, where you would set X amount of days where you wouldn’t spend. The rules were personal, you could include or exclude bill payments, fuel costs, known payments etc. I used to include any payments made on my card, so bills that went out of my account were not included- most go out on the 1st anyway. So all other payments- including cash- would make it a spend day. I feel this mentality could work in the UFM, as would delay buying things until I had to- ie buying fuel so would buy something else on those days if needed. It also meant online shopping saw things sitting in the basket so I had more time to think through the purchase. I think implementing this again would be good!

Step 10-

If you do buy stuff, get it free or cheap! This makes sense and points out that items you cannot get second hand, such as toothpaste, you can price check to make sure you get the best prices. I enjoy facebook marketplace and have had some great finds on there, nice and local too! I think sometimes, it is worth shopping around- I found great wallpaper cheap and using a local builders merchants got shelves to the correct size at a great price. So much better than B&Q! Which I do love as well!haha. So we already do some frugal things, but can improve so much!!

Step 11- Banish Excuses!

Of course this is the hardest part, excuses are easy, they are normal! I have reservations about aspects of this challenge- I love netflix and Amazon Prime! I love buying food that is yummy and convenient! Also, we are eating out with friends in January- I really am not up to cooking or hosting for that many folks, we only meet around once or twice a year and go to a nice cheap place. Also, we are going on a short holiday in January, we will be eating out, socialising and our dogs will be costly in those four days! But around this, we will really really work on our spending issues!!!!

Some of the other points- earn more money- within both our roles we earn very well, this is not a high wage, but much better than minimum wage! There would be no other jobs for either of us that would earn better at this time. Moving would not help, our home is wonderful it is the dream home in our budget and we have worked hard to make it affordable! We love living here, and there is no where cheaper that would compare. Getting rid of cars, our main car would not be worth selling and buying a new one with the loan, it is a good loan and we are probably three years into it now! The car is 0 tax and very economical, husbands truck is all his. He pays for everything for it and loves it, I would never ask him to sell it, it is a luxury! We are not paying to work, we are both commutable- me about a 40-60min round trip, three days a week, hubby 15mins away. We have no children and since Hubbys father has retired, he comes to do the dogs twice a day when hubby is away and I am working a long day. Hubby is struggling with the stresses of his job currently, but also loves it, and I am more content with work than I have been in a long time. Definate room for improvement, but considering I was ready to jack nursing in, I am now loving parts of the role again!

Wish us luck! I will keep you all updated!!

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!

Uber Frugal Month

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mortgage Roundup 2019

We started the year with a mortgage of:

£158,003

And years end:

£152,475

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

December Mortgage

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

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

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

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

November 2019 Mortgage Stats

November Mortgage Stats:

Was: £153,420
Now: £152,973
Monthly Payment: £666.72 + £50
Capital Paid: £447
Interest: £270

I am disappointed to not be dropping into a new thousand bracket every month, but am glad that we are still heading in the right direction! And this money does see us in the 152’s! We have had some unexpected bills pop up, so its really useful to have reduced this overpayment at this time as we have some more flexi money to cover.

We will defeat this mortgage, one overpayment at a time!

October Mortgage Roundup


October Mortgage Stats:

Was: £153,817
Now: £153,420
Monthly Payment: £666.72 + £50
Capital Paid: £397
Interest: £319.72

Another month, and it is good to see that even with a reduction in overpayment, the money is still going down!