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!!

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

And I’m back….

So I went AWOL again, I feel like life has just been weird and constantly full of mild anxiety. We had a horrible time with hubby’s work, my work has continued and we have lost some lovely elderly people (at work, not home, not covid, just end of life stuff) and covid has had my moods swinging like a flag in the wind!

We have continued to over pay the mortgage, pay down the credit card, then added more onto it (more on that later), put on weight and moved less, then started to think about food again and move more…

We made a veg bed and are slowly filling it with gravel, then will come the soil and I can plant plants, I have been infusing vodkas, fun! Hubby now has a new job starting in a month which will see our incomes decrease, and hopefully stress levels decrease. We have booked to go back to Florida in January, have no idea when the wedding we were meant to be going to in New York is going to be so thats on pause.

Little dog developed a lump and has been lame on his front leg, apparently a fatty lump and probable arthritic changes, can do an x ray but he is such a stresshead and treatment won’t change so not doing it. He has tramadol in the mornings, metacam in the evenings, and we continue on yumove. Big dog just seems to be getting so much older, makes me sad, love them both so much! We lost our last three rescue chickens- all different symptoms and vets with no clue over two months, and adopted two more, Florence and Gertrude. They seem pretty happy and healthy, and they lay eggs! From reading, I think that unfortunately ex battery chucks don’t tend to have long lives as they have been egg laying machines. Hopefully they had a lovely two years.

Phew, that is life for the last few months! I am feeling more positive at the moment, so I am hoping to come back and start boring you all! I am also thinking of dedicating part of this blog to my issues with weight as this is a huge part of my life and difficulites and can feel complex and isolating.

We will have some actual money based updates soon too!

Hope everyone is well 🙂

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!

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!