Hobbies

I think it is really important to have hobbies, they can come in many different forms and at a variety of different costs. Some hobbies can be pretty much free. I say pretty much free, as, if you think of walking, you still need shoes and clothes that are appropriate. Most people already own these so, therefore, walking is pretty much free. You could also spend a lot of money on walking should you wish!

My hobbies are pretty sedentary overall, I love reading! Libraries are great for this- though our local one shut down a few years ago, so not as convenient for me- book shares in work places, with friends and family are cost effective and also looking out for bargains in charity shops and online. I have had some great deals on my kindle via amazon, I made use of the free month borrowing scheme and read a bucketful of books all in one series and it was great! Just remember to cancel again after!

I love watching TV and films as well, we got rid of Sky a few years ago and now use Amazon Prime- great for deliveries, Alexa and music, though hubby pays extra for even more music, not just watching stuff! We also use Netflix, this has been great recently and I have been very pleasantly surprised by some of their own creations! I like to read blogs, pretty much free, I already have a laptop, desktop and smartphone. I play the Sims, not free, but given the amount of hours I spend on it, well worth the cost!

Mr Money Mustache talks about cost versus use as a way to look at spending money. If you buy some fantastic walking shoes, for £100, you could work out the cost per mile. So therefore, the more miles you walk the more cost effective the purchase is. I definately get my moneys worth from Netflix and Amazon, not so sure about my TV license for BBC though!

Hobbies are great for our mental health, they keep our brains occupied and they can give us purpose. They come in many forms, hubby did archery for a while, got really into it and bought lots of equipment. He still has a play around every now and then, so I think it was worth the inital outlay. He has a new hobby at the moment, with my encouragement, he bought an imported Americal Ford F100 1974 truck, all the way from California! It is AMAZING!!!! This hobby cost £4900 to buy, but I believe that this is actually a steal for this vehicle. I choose to look at this as an investment as well as a hobby. If looked after and fixed up- as hubby is doing- then this vehicle will only increase in value. Smashing!

Betty, the truck, is currently at a local garage- how random in this semi rural area, that we have a classic car specialist garage fifteen mins away! Where she is being looked after, she actually broke down on the garage driveway, and the guy has said to hubby he is impressed she made it that far. We trust the garage, they are very clear and upfront about everything, telling us what is imperitive to be done, what hubby could have a go at and what can wait. They also have loads of cool cars up there, I got to have a nosy the other day.

I am in love with her colour!

Some of my family, and one of my best friends are horse people, now, horses are expensive hobby. Very fulfilling though I am told! I also love researching the crap out of things, holidays are my biggest obsession! Pinterest is a wonderful place to while away hours of your day, getting inspired and obsessed!

I would love to hear about any hobbies readers have, how do you balance costs etc?

Super King Size Bed!

Something that I find difficult, is the desire of wants versus needs. I wanted a King Size bed, mostly because we allow our dogs up on the bed and more space would be wonderful! This was not a need, and when looking at costs, it was starting to look like a big expensive when we had a perfectly usable double bed.

So i started looking on Facebook and Ebay. Sure enough, just 20 minutes down the road we found someone selling, not a King Size bed, but Super King Size for £50! It was a bargain that we couldnt turn down!

We went to collect it in a borrowed van- no cost. It was in great nick so we payed the £50 and came home.

We payed £12 to buy paint, then I started painting the bed and hubby finished it. We found two sheets for £11.99 each at the Range, already had a King Size duvet which fits great so no extra cost and the biggest expense was finding a mattress! We trawled around lots of stores, it got tedious and I couldnt believe the cost of mattresses! In the end, we found the perfect mattress in Carpet Right of all places, £350 including free delivery!

The bed is amazing, so much space! I love, love, love it! The paint was just to freshen it up a little and help it fit in our room, it wasnt necessary but looks great! Looking round for second hand items is so underrated, we could easily have spent double what we did buying everything new and not as good quality!

Costs:

  • Bed frame £50
  • Mattress £350
  • Paint £12
  • Sheets £23.98
  • Van borrowed so no cost

Overall cost: £435.98

12 Tips for Buying Online

  1. Shop around- if you know what you would like, check different websites to ensure you are getting the best deal. Very and Littlewoods often have the same items, yet sometimes one can get you a cheaper deal on the same item than the other
  2. Check for cashback- this is something that I need to get on top of, I read about people getting money back on things they were buying anyway!
  3. Leave items in the basket for at least one night- if you aren’t desperately in need for the item, or if it isnt already in the sale! I did this recently, partly to manage impulse purchasing but also to see if any offers would be sent through to my email to tempt me back. I got an email the next day to say the items in my basket were now in the 25% off sale, perfect!
  4. Always check what the returns policy is, if you will have to pay for a return, then ensure that you will be happy to stump up those costs
  5. I recently got 20% discount on a gift by signing up to the website- River Island, then referred a friend- my husband- and then bought another item using his email, another 20% discount on a gift! It is easy to unsubscribe after you have made use of the discounts, or stay on the mail list and see what else will turn up
  6. I paid £9.99 to join a VIP package on a website I use regularly, this ensures ‘free delivery’, delivery is £3.99 usually so I only need to buy on three occasions and I have recooped my costs on delivery alone, I will also get early access to any sale items and special discounts
  7. Consider where you want the item delivered, you can get some good savings by having items delievered to store or pre-destined places rather than to your home
  8. Read reviews, either about items or websites before you buy to make sure you wont get any shockers!
  9. See if you can find any coupons or vouchers online, also check about student discounts or NHS discounts, perhaps you could ask someone you know with one of these discount cards to purchase on your behalf
  10. We have Amazon prime, I will sometimes get my friends items via this service as the delivery is quick and ‘free’ within the package, it also helps me too feel that we are making good use out of the prime aspect!
  11. Look out on second hand sites, facebook’s online marketplace is really good, I have bought some great items for cheap there! As well as Ebay, Preloved etc
  12. Consider if you really need the items/item, if you dont, thats a saving right there!

Pets- at what cost?

If you have read any other posts in my blog, you may well have seen pictures of my two rescued furchildren. I love my dogs, I love all dogs, in fact, I am a self confessed animal lover! Having my dogs in my life feels like a non option, I have grown up with pet dogs, in both my seperate family homes we had two dogs (per household), as well as cats, horses and chickens.

I remember a few yeas ago, when I read through Mr Money Mustache’s blog post great-news-dog-ownership-is-optional, and I liked the fact he pointed out some of the realisms of dog ownership. Such as the fact people will adopt/buy a pet when they have little income, not taking into account the true cost of owning an animal. That true cost, covers the responsibility we have as dog/pet owners, this is covered by the five freedoms: The first part is Health– we should protect our pets from disease, illness and injury, and if they should become injured or unwell, we have to seek treatment. We should allow our pets to be natural in their behaviours, when looking at companionship as a freedom we should be considering if that animal is social and whether it should be kept alone or with others. Dietary needs- this includes preventing malnourishment and obesity as well as access to water. The last freedom is access to a suitable environment, this would include access to a shelter and a safe space to be, away from harm.

Pet ownership feels more complex these days, there are so many different opinions out in the world about how we should do things, how we should treat our pets and what we should feed them for example. It is a minefield! Do you buy pet insurance, is it worth the cost, what if your pet has health needs that would invalidate insurance, or the breed means an unfair hike in costs? Buying pets is a huge deal, I wont lie, I rescued my babies, I will always rescue and will never ‘buy’ a pet. This is personal to me and is part of my moral code, I will always advocate adoption! As it stands, my dad and stepmum have two rescued dogs, and my mum and stepdad have two bought dogs, I love both sets of parents and both sets of dogs. If people are to buy puppies, then I will heavily and wholeheartedly advocate for buying from a proper breeder. Always see both sets of parents, check that the breeder will/has vaccinated, ensure to the best of your abilities that they are not from a puppy farm. My mums Jack Russells are from a local breeder, whom we know well and in fact I am now related to via a marriage!

I guess the point of this post, is to highlight that pets are optional. You should take into consideration the cost of time and money that is needed to ensure that any pet has the best life it can, and the possible things in your life that will be impacted upon by this. As a sidenote, I think I will do a couple of blogs introducing my furchildren, I am a very proud parent who will gush about them at any time!

Savings

When I look into ways to be better with money, making money work is something that comes up often, as well as ways to make money last longer.

So, savings are twofold. You can save money by not spending and you can save money by buying items for less. I am still a materialistic person. I recently kon-mari-ed my clothes, I HAD LOTS. I went through them and for each one I checked for that spark of joy, those that didn’t, I thanked them and they have been sent to Barnados Charity shop, to be joyful for someone else. For those that did, I carefully folded and placed them into drawers and the cupboard. This felt so good, but I also acknowledged that there was a lot of wasted money right there. I made a pact with myself to only buy items that are needed and I truely love from now on…I am already wavering on this. I need work trousers as I am down to one functioning pair, I need a new pair of leggings- I am down to one pair, we are off to Florida later in the year and I dont have a lot of hot weather clothes. I live in the UK its not that hot! So, some clothes are actual needs, some are wants and desires.

I went on to Evans last night. I am a plus size girl and its hard to get bargains. We live relatively rural and our charity shops dont seem to have any clothes for big lasses. I left the items in my basket, and this morning the three items in my basket are in the 24% off sale. I still like all three items as much as yesterday and my leggings are down from a tenner, so even better! Now, the other two items are lovely, beautiful, hot weather clothes- they may not suit me and I can return them if they don’t. Evans is pretty happy with that, but the fact I have waited instead of purchasing meant I got them with 24% discount, ergo, I have made a saving. I could argue with myself that not buying the items would be a better saving though!

I also found two pairs of trousers for work on Amazon for a great price, again, if they aren’t right, Amazon are pretty good about returns. One really bad thing, is that Amazon seem to be offering lots of plus size clothes for a great price. Noooooooo! My plan to manage this impulse to buy, is to leave items in my basket, see if I still like them, and then check if funds can cover it this month. If not, I will save them for later, when I have the funds!

As to the other part of saving (the not spending part) we currently use Santander and get 1.5% on the money in our current account. This is better than a kick in the teeth, but not great. I also have an M & S account, and have opened a 5% savings account. To get this rate, we have to leave the money for a year and can only pay-in up to £250 a month. This means in a year that account will be £3k and we will earn over £81 in interest. This is where that money will be working for us. Depending on my variable income, this money will either be entirely new savings or a mix of new and some other savings we already have. Making money work for us is a concept I am new to, and I am still trying to get more into this mindset, including investments etc. as well. One day at a time! 🙂

Florida: Must do list

I am completely borrowing/utilising this idea from thriftygal over on http://thepowerofthrift.com who does a bucket list for her travel destinations! I absolutely love this idea! We are heading to Florida later this year and here is all the wonderful/trashy things I would love to do!

  • Go to Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and the new waterpark Volcano Bay!
  • Go on a glass bottomed kayak, looking at all the beautiful wildlife Florida has to offer
  • Get over to NASA, have a good old mooch around and learn lots of new things about the Universe around us!
  • Eat at IHOP- have been to one in Vegas, phwoar, I fell in love!
  • Get a place named souvenir from Planet Hollywood- have glasses with Vegas, Edinburgh, London and Paris on so far, our little collectables!
  • Go to Universal Studios Horror Nights, this is a true dream! Am a bit of a horror geek!
  • If feasible on the timeline, go to Hollywood Studios
  • Play crazy golf! In Vegas I found a groupon for KISS crazy golf, it was so much fun!
  • Enjoy some American TV and find some amazing pizza!
  • Get on an airboat ride- in the Everglades if at all possible to see Alligators
  • See a real life Walmart

We are holidaying with my family so some of the most important to do’s, revolve around them!

  • Spend some quality time with the folks
  • Get quality time with my baby sister and her boyfriend
  • Spend time with my step brother, who I hardly see anymore and lovely Netty, who has holidayed with my folks for as long as I can remember, she is fabulous!
  • Enjoy all the new experiences with my hubby, I quite like the fella and making new memories is always amazing
  • Have an unbelievably good time!

Not all of these memory making lists are in anyway cost effective, frugal or bargainous, but they are so worth the money I believe! Hubby has never been to Florida, but he loved Vegas and is excited to go back to America, I have been to Florida, but not since I was a child, so I am so looking forward to this too! I may do a post about how I am trying to make smart choices and have some sort of budget for this holiday!

Thanks for reading 🙂

Surveys

One of the money making suggestions that comes up a lot, is surveys. I have been a member of Onepoll for a long time, I can be a bit hit and miss about checking in often and this obviously affects earnings! Before Christmas I hit the £40 payout and decided to make more of an effort to logon and answer the surveys. Since then, Onepoll have developed an app for the mobile device, this makes it easier to check in on the go, like breaks when I am on long days!

I am currently up to £22.85, I am over half way to the next payout. This is never going to be a big money earner, the surveys are hit and miss, some days there are none others there are plenty. I am only eligible for certain surveys as well, so you cannot guess or assume payment, but it is a bit of fun and it is easy!

I have also joined Yougov- this seems to offer me a lot less surveys, also, they dont seem to be live very long so I can easily miss them. I will keep on though and see how it goes!

Money Saving Expert has a whole article on surveys: https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/family/make-money-surveys/

I have started having a nosy through and on advice, have just signed up to I-say. Watch this space for updates! 🙂

Money and Frugality

So, my relationship with money is interesting, sometimes I will deliberate for hours/days on buying something, other times it is in my basket and then winging its way to me with no thought at all.

I wonder, what it is about money and spending it, what makes me deliberate over buying item x but not item y. I have to admit, I love money, I love money shuffles- when on payday I go online to my bank and move money to different pots- once all bills have gone out I will then look at the little ‘pots’ of money we have. At the moment, we have Driveway, Holiday and Other, then whatever is left is surplus and can be used for our joint pursuits. This is all in one account so I keep a close eye on them. We get 1.5% in that account so its earning a little something at this time.

I have been looking into frugality recently- ‘sparing or economical as regards of money or food’ and ‘simple and plain and costing little’. These are two dictionary definitions of frugality, other views are about being tight, miserly and miserable. I recently discovered The Frugalwoods:

www.frugalwoods.com

These lovely folks have taken frugality and made it their metaphorichal bItch! I joined the challenge Uber Frugal Month Challenge, where you get emails from them every day over a month and you try to be a frugal person for an entire month. I decided it made sense to go from Jan payday to Feb payday, so far, I have spent £84 on starting this blog, not totally frugal, but hopefully I may be able to eventually make a little extra moolah as a sideline from this blog, therefore a possible start to more passive income. I have paid bills, this is something I have no choice over!haha. I have paid for one food shop so far, we do it on a week by week basis and I haven’t had to fill up the car yet. It has helped that I have done two 46hour weeks, so when I haven’t been working I have been too tired! I did walk to the shop and paid through the nose for bread and butter, oh and two cadburys cream eggs feel onto the counter as well- but I walked and any other shops I would have had to drive to.

One of our biggest spends is on food, we are only a family of two humans, yet we regularly spend about £80 a week on food and drinks, not including takeaways- we tend to have one a week- or if we go out for food. We have a lot of food waste, neither of us like cooking, so it can feel like a drag, or I may decide to cook and by that time the veg has gone off. We are trying to meal prep, but long days and hubby working away do sometimes mean we just can’t be bothered and will do processed easy meals. This a a two fold problem, one, it is not cost effective and two, it is not healthy.

We already shop at Aldi, we don’t tend to buy brand foods- I am still buying proper salad cream, though that is my only brand item!! This week I am going to make a vegetable pot pie, have made it before and it was soooo good. Also, can make it last a few meals, useful for when I am on long days as can take it in and hubby just heats his up at home. I will make this tomorrow. I am also considering stocking up on more frozen veg, as veg does seem to go off so quickly. Was thinking of cutting up a load of onions and then chucking them in the freezer for future use! Red onions are meant to be really good for gut bacteria, and Aldi only seems to sell frozen white onions. My food shop came to £85 this week, hubby got some bits for his car and I bought two cheap bottles of fizzy wine and creme de cassis- £6.99 a bottle but lasts a few weeks- so those will have increased the cost around £20, but need ot keep an eye on this and try to get the costs and food waste down!

Have you any ideas and tips for low cost food shopping?

MFW Part 2

Just to recap, horrified by the mortgage repayments for the new house, I planned to OP to get us to 10% LTV in two years when we would be able to remortgage. Without OPs, we would only be taking £163 off the capital a month, despite the £930 a month cost, ouch! We initially set up a £70 a month OP, but I realised this would still not be enough to be on target. I increased our OPs to £170 a month and threw anything else I could at it, this looked like it should just get us on target, I focused only on OPing on the mortgage and we cracked down on other spending to cover this!

On the 12th August 2015 I did a reality check to compare where we were vs where we would have been had we not been OP the mortgage:

Year one balance if no OPs made: £183,251 as of the 1st July 2015 balance: £180,404.24, a £2486.76 difference and not even at the year mark! Our original mortgage end date was 2049 and on the current trajectory would be 2033. The original expected interest costs: £207,475, based on new trajectory: £103,871

Obviously, the above figures are speculative based on fixed rate and estimated rates after that ends, but it does go to show how OPing makes a massive difference to the mortgage in the long term!

We hit our target of owning 10% of the mortgage on the 1st February 2016, I was so happy with this! Because of this, we were able to remortgage on August 1st 2016 with a rate of 2.98%, meaning that the payment was £685.87 a month, rather than £930! Massive win!

The next goal was to own 20% LTV of our home in two years, ready for the next remortgage! The difficulty at this time, was that we needed to focus on getting work done on the house, such as a large patio we had put in and buying a eco car on finance- got a very good loan rate! So our OPs steadily stopped over that time as we focused on other things. Last year, we went to see our mortgage adviser, she estimated our mortgage would be around the £170k mark, I was very pleased to show it was pretty much £160k! The house was valued at £210, this gave us exactly what we needed to lock into our current mortgage, we have locked in for five years as we knew I would be doing agency work which would possibly effect our desireability and eligibility.

Our mortgage information as it stands:

5 year mortgage with Tesco, at 2.11%, monthly payments: £666.72, current balance: £158,003, we reduced the term, our original mortgage was for 32 years, and this one is over 26years, hence the monthly amount remaining around the same as previous!

Focus on becoming mortgage free has been almost on hold, only one OP has been made with new mortgage- I was given the account number etc and sent over £60, then was told I had to send over minimum payments of £1k or set up a regular overpayment. Due to other things that are going on, I figured I will try to save up toward the £1k and not let this part of the journey slide, as actually, not having a mortgage would allow much more funds for saving and collecting for the future!

MFW Part 1

After all the hassle of selling our previous house and getting everything ready to buy our current home, I was horrified at how much the monthly cost of our mortgage was! Any money from selling our first home went on paying a 5%, YES, 5% deposit on the new house and all the associated costs of moving. We used a service whose name I cannot remember, where you say how much stuff you need moving and people with vans quote how much they will do it for. We paid £400 for our entire lives to be moved and did other bits ourselves! Bargain!

Initial Mortgage £185,250 over 35 years with 5% deposit of £9750, MF date 2049 (£195,000) this equates to £930 in repayments a month. The APR was 4.99%, ouch!

I found the Mortgage Free Wannabe (MFW) boards on Money Saving Expert (MSE), I loved reading others diaries and exploring different concepts, such as how even the smallest overpayment (OP) could make a huge difference in the longevity of the mortgage, and ergo how much interest we would pay over the length of the mortgage! I was acutely aware that buying this home on 5% deposit, with what seemed like a high interest rate and very high to us monthly payments was a massive risk, but it felt so worth it! This home is the dream home (in our price range!haha).

So, discovering MFW and starting a diary I started to wonder, what OPs we could make, on discussion we agreed we could afford to increase the monthly payment to £1000. An OP of £70 a month, I did this almost straight away and that £70 was taken on our first payment day. Honestly, it is addictive to look on OP calculators! I will add the link for MSE:

https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/mortgages/mortgage-overpayment-calculator

Disclaimer!! Now, I have already said I am a Nurse, I am in no way a financial expert, more an interested novice! There are many things you could be doing instead of OP on a mortgage, eg, ensure any debts are on 0% if possible, OP on more expensive debts, put OP funds into a higher interest saving account than your mortgage etc. This is just what I chose to do! We had £1200 on a credit card, which was 0% and saving rates were pretty poor at that time!

The initial goal was very quickly established, reach 10% LTV by the time the current fixed rate mortgage ended to aim for a better % when we re-mortgaged. I quickly, and slightly depresingly calculated that without any OPs we took off a measly £163 off the capital every month, meaning that the rest was interest- £767. In the next post, I will bore you all some more with OPs, goals and all that jazz!