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!

DIY part 2

So, those whose saw my recent DIY post, saw that with mostly my mum’s help we managed to wallpaper the alcoves in the Dining room- though our dining table is actually in the lounge, so this is going to be more of a snug!

Trying to source shelves in the correct sizes was turning out to be impossible, both alcoves are different lengths and the depth was much deeper than regular shelves, but the deeper shelves would all be too big. Hubby and I discussed options, I really wanted the shelves to come into line with the chimney breast if possible. I went online and browsed around for bespoke shelving, honesly the cost made my eyes water. No way, even if we could afford those shelves, would I want to pay £1400, though the oak shelves were beautiful.

So we spent time looking at B&Q and the different ranges and options. We had almost decided to go for a smaller depth as we were concerned our cutting skills would be very poor along the length of the shelf, though cutting width may be ok! Thankfully once we thought we had the right shelf- costing £196.20- including batons, B&Q were unable to get any more of the shelving. So we wandered off to our local Huws Grey Building Merchants. The man was super helpful and with his expertise, we concluded that MDF cut into the exact sizes we needed would be our best option. Though maybe it’s not the perfect look, it is very strong, durable and affordable! He also sized up the length of 4×4 batons we would need and costed it all up for us.

I was so shocked at the cost for it all: £98.99

So with that pleasant surprise we paid for the goods, collected the precut wood and left over MDF three days later! This weekend we finally had some time to get those shelves up. I really wanted them up for Christmas, as our books were just in piles on the floor!

The dogs are never keen when we are doing things, they like it when we sit and cuddle them!

Hubby did most of the work, I helped to measure, held the wood whilst he sawed (we must have lent our workbench to someone!), held wood on the walls for him to screw them in, changed drill bits and general dogsbody things! He did all the proper sweaty work!

We have never done this kind of DIY before, so we went in with an awareness that we could cock up, but that would be ok, we would take our time, measure twice etc etc. One of the main issues was that there are electric sockets on both alcoves, so this could be an issue, we didn’t have one of those clever gadgets that detects wires and from everything we read- wires go up! So we did the alcove where we could easily avoid the double sockets at the bottom and the probable wires up the wall!

After trouble with the first shelf- drill bit not going through the wall, screws actually too small, spirit level not being level- Hubby ran off to Huws Grey before it closed, got the bits he needed and came back, I went to my Dad’s and borrowed a masonary drill bit! Take two saw the shelves going up much quicker!

Utilising the arm of the chair to drill holes, Hubby working hard to get those shelves up!

Troubles on Sunday were with the extra sockets on the wall in the second alcove, we turned all the electric off in case the theory of the wires going straight up was wrong! Our main issue was trying to avoid the possible cable path meant the drill went at a slightly odd angle, resulting in two broken drill bits, cussing and frustration! But with perserverance and ribena, he did it! We were going to build six shelves on the right side, but went with 5 with bigger gaps between them. On the left side we have built three shelves and left a large gap underneath so that we can utilise that space for other ideas I have! Hubby despairs when he sees me on Pinterest.

So pleased with the final product! Love it!

What we used:

  • Hand saw
  • Drill- we had two batteries so this helped
  • Brown raw plugs
  • Screws
  • Regular wooden drill bit- 3 to be precise!
  • Masonry drill bit- very necessary when drilling into masonry!
  • Length of 4×4 wood for batons- we have left overs which was good
  • Pre-cut MDF to the correct sizes via Huws Grey
  • Lots of Ribena

I am so pleased with it, we have a very large mirror that we are going to hang on the fireplace once we get the correct brackets, we have filled up the shelves with books, two new lamps- waiting to get correct bulbs as ones from the shop were way too bright and some Christmas things. I am now officially in love with this room, I never have been before! We have a fridge-freezer in here for the dogs raw food that we will get into the shed at some point when we can get electric in there. And a wall of photos which has been there since we moved in, which is so lovely to look at. We are also aiming to get our fire in there, it has been in the shed a long time so a bit rusty but should fix up well! Very exciting!

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!

Glasgow

On Sunday 1st December, we said goodbye to the doggies, leaving them with their lovely sitter and drove 4hours and 15minutes to Glasgow! The drive down was great, very little congestion, hubby did all the driving (I did offer to share) and we stopped for a hot drink, krispy kreme donut and burger king on the way!

We arrived at the hotel- Radisson Red- parked up and were just in time to check in. We unloaded our bags, checked out the very lovely room, with perfect views of the Hydro stadium and the Clyde River. Then off we went, using google maps. We wandered into the heart of the city, along the riverside which was beautiful, it was very, very cold! Our main aim was to get to George Square for the Christmas Markets. We had a really good wander around, looked through the Market and all the other lovely shops before getting a bit lost and confused, then headed back to the hotel. We found the local Hard Rock Cafe- this has become an accidental thing, we have glasses from Vegas, London, Edinburgh, Paris and Orlando, we will collect more in New York! We had tea at the hotel, a cocktail and got a bottle of wine- which I have brought home as we didn’t finish it!haha. Food was ok, quite pricey for what it was. I was worried about noise levels in the hotel, but actually, it was all quiet!

Radisson Red in Glasgow: views from the window and our room! We could see the Hydro!

We got up at 8am the following day, got dressed, wrapped up warm and walked to TriBeCa cafe on Dumbarton Road, took about 33minutes. I chose this place for breakfast after googling for the best pancakes in Glasgow! I am a bit obsessed with american style pancakes, I admit, I have issues! We had a thoroughly enjoyable breakfast there, the pancakes were so yum as was the french toast. Hubby had candied bacon on his, he said it was delishious! Once we were filled, we wandered about 15minutes to the Riverside Museum.

Wow, what a museum! We loved it, its up there for me, with the Mob museum in Vegas! The building itself was fascinating, and the inside was just great, really interesting, well designed and interesting space! We spent a couple of hours wandering around and enjoying it all. I am sure it would be easy to spend more time there if you were so inclined. The museum was free, they survive on donations, we donated a tenner for both of us. We then went to the Tall Ship, which is behind the museum on the river. This was fascinating and interesting too, again free, so a small donation was made. We then got the hop on hop off bus, hubby enjoyed lisitening to the audio, I enjoyed looking out of the window. We got off at George Square then wandered down towards Enoch Shopping Centre. I found Yours, plus size shop and got some great clothes all on offer, yay! We didn’t end up going into the shopping centre, we were all shopped out just from the high street, there are so many shops! We then got back on the hop on hop off bus and got back to the hotel. We booked into the Rotunda Italian restaurant for an early tea, as that night was the main reason we travelled to Glasgow. We had the pre-theatre menu, which was super yummy, it was very busy so the service was a bit hit and miss understandably. Good food, would definately go back!

Mega fit pancakes from TriBeCa, some Glasgow shots and some of the Christmas Market!

The reason we went to Glasgow: The Nightmare Before Christmas, live with an Orchestra, featuring Danny Elfman, Catherine O’Hara and Ken Page!!!!!!!!

OMG, could I be anymore excited?! Probably not, I am a massive NBC fan, watch it every year, got married on Halloween and got the DJ to play some of the songs during the night! We booked the tickets a year ago, when I saw that it was coming over for the 25th anniversary. Hubby decided he would like to see it in Glasgow, as we have been to London a few times and the distance is similar. So, thats how we came to be in Glasgow. He has been to Glasgow before and I hadn’t, and as a massive Scotland fan, I was more than happy to go! We walked the two minutes from the hotel to the Hydro, wasted some time before going to sit to watch the show.

It was incredible, the Orchestra were incredible, Danny Elfman was out of this world, the back up singers were perfection, Catherine O’Hara knocked my socks off and Ken Page was spot on! Best production I have ever been too, I didn’t think I could love NBC anymore than I do, but I do love it even more now! We did queue up and get a program- £15, ouch. But you gotta do it sometimes! After the brilliant show, we went up to the Red Sky Bar at the hotel and had a couple of very expensive cocktails before going to sleep.

The screens at the Hydro, we were on quite an angle, but still a great view! My Sally ears came all the way from Orlando in September, love them! And hubby always looks good!

We then travelled home- the car needs a very expensive part replacing so that made the drive a bit tense, but we got home in one piece!

Costs:

  • Radisson Red- £158 for 2nights
  • Parking at hotel- £10 for 2 nights
  • Tickets for NBC- £124 for 2 tickets including booking fee etc
  • Food, drink, fuel and miscellaneus- £311
  • Hop On Hop Off bus- £32 for 2 of us for one day

What a great short break, Glasgow is a great industrial city, lots of shops etc and plenty to do! If you are thinking of going, stop thinking and go!

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!

Mortgage Yearly Roundup!

So, we started off the fixed five year mortgage with £159,975 borrowed against our home, which is valued at £210k. This is over 25years.

At year end our mortgage stood at £154,262.28

We paid a total of £3,599.52 in interest

Which means that we paid £5,712,72 off the capital!

I feel very pleased with this over a year, especially since the interest is so much less than the capital reduction now!

Only downside, which may not actually be a downside, is Tesco are stopping mortgages. They will be sending us over the Halifax any day now, we will still keep our fixed rate etc thankfully. Wondering if Halifax may have a cleverer OP system!

Hurrah over all, great years work!

Mortgage catch up!

I accidently went AWOL for a while!

Our mortgage currently stands at £153,817 , I haven’t kept tabs on it since July, but have had a print out of my year to date. Will post this soon just in case anyone is interested!

After making expensive holiday choices, have altered the overpayments to £50, a reduction of £200 until we are back on finacial track with holibobs! Think I may need to rename this blog!haha

Will do a more thorough update soon!

Northumberland

I love getting away, I love exploring new areas, and I love to go away for my birthday! Yesterday, we arrived back from a three day trip to Northumberland, we stayed in an airbnb property, which was small but perfect for our needs- also a great price of £50 a night! It was in a lovely little village, with a nice pub opposite.

We spent time in Chillingham Castle, it was pretty quirky and interesting. It is apparently one of the most haunted castles in England- and I can believe that! It was taken over by Sir Humphrey Wakefield after it had been left to decay and rot for over 50years, he took the time to fix it up, including the ceilings in some rooms and get it back to its functional self. Sir Wakefield is a hoarder of interesting and random historical items, but as he has so much space to fill, he becomes a collector! We enjoyed the uniqueness of this place, it was much more than a castle and has such a rich history. I believe you can stay in the grounds and they do ghost tours, I didnt fancy that, I am a baby! The grounds are beautiful and we wandered through the woodlands, we saw a fox but no deer sadly. I also got serious garden envy!

Chillingham also has the only wild cattle in the UK, we went to see them as part of a secondary tour. It was certainly interesting and the cattle look interesting, smaller than a lot of other cattle. We heard bulls rutting and having fights up on the hill and saw some calves. The tours are only at set times on certain days. I loved the castle, the cattle tour was interesting but not as much as the castle!

We also went to Alnwick gardens, I love this place! It is the best gardens I have ever been too, and I love going to gardens! I think it was because the space was filled with interesting things, like the corridor of cherry blossom, which of course were still beautiful at this time of year, tulips and daffodils lined the paths and giant swings were dotted all over. The walled garden was incredible- walled gardens are the sexiest things in my humble opinion- the symmetry was just so eye catching. The way the trees were trained to espalier looked awesome and the water features, which again reflected the symmetry just felt so inspiring! There is a massive water feature right at the start which has fountain shows, and a corridor made of trees on either side. The serpent garden has the most amazing water features, and the bamboo maze is just fantastic! The rose garden was sadly not in bloom but still great, and the Poison garden was just fascinating!

The Castle at Alnwick is interesting, but a bit too perfect for me, I do like Castles to be falling down a little, or quirky ala Chillingham, though the views were stunning. We got to see a quidditch training session taking place!

We drove past Bambrough castle which was very picturesque and went along the coast for a drive, then on to Rothbury which is a sweet little town. We also went to Dobbies garden centre where I bought a Bonsai tree! So exciting!

The dogs stayed in kennels, this cost us just over £80, we payed for the Alnwick castle and gardens tickets in advance, this cost just over £50 with the online discount, airbnb cost us £150 for three nights, we have an economical car so that helps with carbon footprint and cost! It was £35.50 for Chillingham Castle and Cattle for both of us, which we paid when got there. In total we spent an extra £395 on the castle, fuel, eating out lots, and shopping! I am quite happy with this! I love a get away and we dont like to skimp, the room we had only had a small fridge and no cooking facilities, so great excuse to eat out and about!

May Mortgage Stats

At the beginning of April after payments, the mortgage was: £156,834
As of the 1st of May, the mortgage is now: £156,193
Our monthly payment as of 1st May: £666.72 + £250.28
We paid this much off the capital: £641
Which means that our interest for the month was: £276
Therefore, £276 divided by the 30 days of April, indicated we paid: £9.20 a day in interest!

This is very exciting, I really hope that these overpayments can continue!