Some ways I have been working towards Mortgage Freedom and things I have noticed!

Just a reminder, I am a Nurse, and in no way should what I say/do be taken as proper advice, I am merely sharing my novice ways of heading towards mortgage freedom! Any financial choices should not be based on my ramblings!

Always look at debts as a whole- if you have expensive debts, the advice would be to pay these off first. For us, the most expensive debt we have is the mortgage. We do have a loan, which is 4%, but this has set interest and we will pay the same amount regardless of how soon we pay it off! The mortgage is at 2.99% and our credit cards are all 0%- we TART our cards to ensure we dont pay any interest on them. This has been working well for us, we currently have a 0% spends card and a 0% balance transfers card. We make note of when these run out to ensure that we don’t get charged interest!

Martin Lewis from MSE (Money Saving Expert), points out that if you can get more from savings than OP (Over Paying) the mortgage, then that would make sense. For some people being MF (Mortgage Free) is the overriding desire- but bear this in mind, your money may work better in other ways. We are saving in a 1.5% current account and have a 5% savings account, there is a cap on this for £250 a month and we can’t touch this for a year to get the interest. As it stands, the mortgage rate is now much better for us, our first mortgage was over 5%! So some savings accounts are better than OP now.

OP my morgage helped when remortgaging, for example, I was able to get a better rate once I hit 10% comparative to 5%LTV. This is the same with other key LTV points, namely 90%, 75% and 60%, though when we most recently remortgaged and hit 80% and this made a big difference to us!

We are only able to OP 10% of our mortgage a year this has always been the case- there isn’t any chance we will reach 10% in a year currently. But as the mortgage decreases, 10% wont be as much, so maybe one day this could be an issue! For our first mortgage, we kept the term as long as possible as it was more affordable, then chucked OPs at the mortgage on top of this. Meaning the outcome is similar to a reduction in years, but we had flexibility with regards to our standard monthly payment being affordable. For our latest remortgage, we could afford the payments over 26years, shaving years off the mortgage. We then plan to OP on top of this when possible.

We have had a great mortgage advisor. I look on Money Saving Expert as well to see the kind of costs we would be looking at, and she always gets us a great deal. Having an expert you can trust is definately helpful, she was very impressed at how much we had taken off the mortgage! The second time we remortgaged, we did it by ourselves with the same bank- the deal was fine and incured no fees. When we were looking at remortgaging with another bank and a different term, I let Fiona lead the way!

When we first got our big mortgage, paying it down was the most important thing. I knew in the long run we would thank ourselves for two years of frugality in other areas when we could remortgage and the house would be a lot more affordable. Now, in theory, we can afford the house and bills with one wage, which is reassuring! I have been reading about mortgage neutrality recently, but we have other things to save for and do now, so OP the mortgage when we can fits better these days!

Remember, with OP, every penny/pound counts! For every pound borrowed we pay £1.51 back therefore everytime you pay off an extra £1, you save 51p in the future! That’s a motivating thought! A diary on MSE introduced me to Tilly Tidies- namely someone called Tilly, started to skim down their accounts. Rounding down to a whole number, what was skimmed was then OP or sent to a savings account to build up to be OPayed! This is something I am doing now as I have to save £1000 before I can send an OP, I am also considering setting up a regular overpayment again… get itchy not seeing any extra change to the mortgage!

WARNING- Mortgage overpayments can be seriously addictive and cause others in your lifes eyes to glaze over! Find other like minded folk to share with 🙂

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!

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! 🙂

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?

Where it began…

It all began a long, long time ago…well, it wasn’t really that long ago! Hubby and I bought our first home in June 2011 with a 5% deposit- the other 5% was then ‘gifted’ to us by the person selling the house, meaning we had a 10% deposit. I didn’t really know much about mortgages, I knew the ‘gifting’ scheme was soon coming to an end as it wasn’t clear if it should be allowed or not, and I trusted our mortgage advisor had got us a great rate. We bought the property for £120k and were so excited! On the day we packed up from our prospective parents homes it felt surreal, at that time I had been working as a Nurse since June 2009, and hubby was working his butt off on minimum wage at an animal rescue. As we started unpacking, a guy walked past us with no top on, with ‘thug life’ tattooed on him, we just looked at each other and said ‘what have we done’?! Later, the attached neighbour invited us round to watch whatever fight was on and we declined, deciding to carry on unpacking- at 5am we were woken by the neighbour and his partner having a blazing row. My heart sank! We found out a few days later from the other neighbours, that attached neighbour was one of the reasons the previous owner was desperate to leave….

I loved our first home, we had a little balcony off the kitchen, a basement that lead into a small but functional garden, we bought a great kitchen and generally loved living there. Neighbour split with his girlfriend, he would be loud with music blaring, swearing at the TV and generally sharing his life with the street a couple of times a week, less so than when they were together. We also found out that asking him to stop with the noise would work, he would apologise and it would be tolerable, then the following week he would be off again. Actually a nice guy apart from the noise! I was working a lot of nights at that time and it did really affect my mood, I struggled to feel able to relax. He moved out and his dad moved in in 2012/13 and peace reigned. It was glorious!

In August 2011, we decided to go to our local rescue, just to have a look at dogs, it obviously would be too soon to adopt a dog having only lived together for two months…but that’s when we met Lady. A beautiful staffy mix, she was so skinny, she jumped up and lay across us at the rescue centre and we fell in love. We brought her home, but it turned out that Lady was reactive with other dogs- she could have dog friends, but any other dogs caused her to shout and bounce. So we started to think about finding somewhere less populated than our street to live, as children played out on the streets until it was dark, even at the height of summer. Plus the parking sucked.

In the time we lived in that house, we adopted another little staffy, Red, hubby started to work in the kennels for a sniffer dog company, we got engaged, married and went on our honeymoon, I changed jobs a couple of times (all within Nursing), hubby got promoted within the company and we decided to put the house on the market for the same value it was bought for in 2014. We SSTC, panicked as we couldnt find somewhere we loved. It had to be detached, or semi-detached but with the stairs against the adoing wall, not bedrooms (made that mistake before!). It had to have some kind of parking and a large garden for the dogs. We looked at so many houses, then this one came on the market. We were very excited from the pictures, it was even better in real life. Semi-detached, only spare room and kitchen is attached to next door, our right side is surrounded by fields, including our own mini field (we have .97 of an acre) and the house had recently been extended and decorated. Perfect! We proceded and once we had payed and instructed solicitors, our buyers found out that they didn’t actually have a mortgage and it fell through. Cue panic! We needed £118k from our house to cover all costs and 5% deposit on this house so we reduced the price. Had a further offer which fell through, then my dad and step mum saved us. They bought our old house as a buy to let and we bought this one! Took six months all in until we got the key! Well done if you have followed me so far! 🙂