Uber Frugal Month, Days 1-6

Firstly, Happy New Year!

Now on to the main reason I am here- Day 1 is about reviewing the homework, or completing it if needed which I have already done, well done me!

Day 2 is to focus on your long term goals, therefore you can ask yourself, ‘Do I want to buy the new Sims game, or do I want to achieve my goal’. As we know I am flaky about long term goals and am still working on this, but having no debt and knocking the mortgage right down are definate goals! I mean, I haven’t spent the money on my op yet so that is nice, but as soon as it is paid I think it will ignite me to be more specific on spending/saving.

Day 3 focuses on managing impulse spending by waiting 72hours between wanting something and actually buying it, giving us time to evaluate if we really want something. So far this month, I have paid £18.80 in customs for dresses I bought last year, spent £30 on presents for my best friend and her new baby, and £70 on new fencing as my dogs are at war with the new dogs across the way which is just so annoying and anxiety provoking. Oh and we have had to pay £106 for gas bottles as we have ran out. Already an expensive month, oops! Hubby paid for food shop and it was £60 which is about £15 less than normal. My plan is to wait 72hours before all purchases- I do have my eye on a cheap treadmill at the moment so will see how it goes! I have wanted a treadmill for many months now as I love walking, but sometimes I just want to stay in with the dogs (they are arthritic so minimal walking these days), I will step out in my lounge but it isn’t the same! So a treadmill won’t be an impulse buy at least, and I am waiting for a good deal. Mrs Frugalwoods points out that when waiting the 72hours, consider if you really need it, calculate what else you could do with the money, can you alter something you already own, can you get it cheaper- ah facebook market place!- and finally could you borrow it from a friend. So many good points, it is pay day tomorrow so I will be using this as a good start point to practice this. I have also tried to be careful up until now but as I just proved I have still been spending :0

Day 4 looks at food shopping, Mrs Frugalwoods asks, do you eat everything you buy? I won’t lie, I am not always the best at this side of things, but we did a meal plan and food shop so this week we have been doing well so far. We do food shop weekly, and use Aldi unless we need something we cannot get from there- Vimto is a need when on offer! I have also decided to not drink alcohol as my surgery means I cannot anyway. We are not very good at bulk cooking, but try to plan easy quick meals when I am working as I get home late, and I don’t mind a tiny bit more complex on my days off and more complex again when we are both off if we want! Though cooking isn’t really our thing. We won’t be buying take out, I won’t be allowed/able after surgery and in these weeks working towards surgery I have to follow a strict plan. Freezing food isn’t something we do often, but I have been advised that before the op I should freeze food as I wont have the energy or inclination initially. Also, we normally eat all our food on our plates so left over food is rare! I do need to have a very good look at the Liver Reduction Diet that I start on Saturday for two weeks to make sure that I meal plan correctly.

Day 5 looks at our discretionary spends, Mrs Frugalwoods says that we should times monthly discretionary costs by 12 to work out yearly costs, and see how much you might earn if you invested it instead. I am not very with it when it comes to investing, I don’t really understand the process and have looked several times but not taken the first step. I probably should! I think this time round I will focus more on this area, and try to make some effort! This is a good article that I am reading to help with this from Mrs Fruglawoods.

So today, day 6, is about organising your finances. Tracking monthly spending, knowing your monthly net income (mine does vary due to length of the month some are 4 weeks some are 5 weeks), you need to know what you owe and you need to know what you own. As suggested by money saving expert and Mrs Frugalwoods, always try to pay your highest debts down first, focus on the interest rather than monthly cost. So, as it stands I have a £5k loan with a set cost, therefore nothing to be saved from paying it off quickly as such, I will have about £4k on a 0% credit card for 18months, it probably makes sense to try and pay this off first as after 18months (though I plan to tart the card to not pay any fees) the APR is 18%. The loan is set to take 5 years to pay off and I have already had it since August 2020. I have about £2.5k saved but as I have said before, I don’t know how long I will be off work so want the cash to cover any unforeseen time off so I can pay my bills. Whatever is left when I get back to work I will pay off. I also will be able to save a chunk of my wage tomorrow as it was a 5 week month, and I get some extra moolah for bank holidays. The next step is to create an Emergency Fund- we have £1k left in our emergency fund now as we paid off some debts last year. Mrs Frugalwoods talks about saving for retirement- my work pension is a basic one and the outlook is poor, when I tried to increase payments, both my work and the pension people were totally unhelpful so I pay the usual amount in. Not really sure what else I can do here? And finally she talks about investing, it is on my to-do list I promise!

I am expecting a call from the dietician to discuss my pre op diet later today, she just called to see if I am free, exciting but nerve wracking. Need to re read the plan so I can make sure I have all my questions ready. I will also have a good look at my personal savings after pay day and money dance on my next day off, look at how much I still owe on the loan and work out when I need to pay for the surgery! I still need to book and pay for the dentist too, bah!

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!

What gets the chop?

So, as part of Uber Frugal Month (UFM), I made a list of payments we make monthly. It is hard to look at what we pay for, and break it down into the bare bones, rather than the joy it can give! Kon Mari my spending!haha. Writing everything down has allowed time for hubby and I to read over and discuss what we spend money on, whether it is important and what to change.

I am looking to change my Sim only deal, I pay £14+ a month and it isn’t great really. Nosing on MoneySaving Expert Sim Only Deals it is clear there are a lot of options! It is frustrating to see vodafone offering great deals to newbies, will have to see what they will offer a long time customer, if they won’t I will happily jump ship! Have gotten all irritated over this get new customers and sod the old!Haha.

We have concluded we will cancel the zoo membership, we are not making use of it and £13.75 adds up over the year! I will get on this ASAP and see if it can be cancelled before Jan payment!- Now cancelled!

We are chatting a lot about the life insurance and critical illness cover, we have no dependents, if one of us died, it would be nice not to have to pay the mortgage. But the current cost is way too high, we could afford the mortgage on one wage, but it would be darn tight! But, this is why we are doing the UFM challenge! I think we have concluded we will cancel it and hope we don’t die anytime soon. -I have cancelled mine, hubby will cancel his next week!

I am now on the lookout for a better current account, the 123 account used to be great, we got 3% interest over 3k and cashback, which more than covered the £5 account fee. Now the interest is 1.59%, we don’t get a lot of cashback really- we are on bottled gas, no cashback for this! Internet goes from hubbies account etc. I may see what happens when we move a small chunk of savings back in, just in case…

I have put the wheels in motion to cancel my mental health magazine, I am pretty sure this is over £7 a month, though a very interesting magazine it isn’t as relevant anymore and I can access the articles online if I desire. Will remain a member of the union though as it offers insurance and support if anything goes wrong.-Now cancelled!

Reading up about cancelling the TV licence, I could definitely live without BBC. But want to check on the ins and outs so I don’t get fined! We don’t have an aeriel to the downstairs TV, and even though IPLAYER is on the TV, we can ignore it in order to not pay £154.50 for the year. Sorry BBC, you are ok, but not worth it in comparisson to Primes £79 a year and free next day delivery as well as shows…

We have no choice with regards to heating, we have no main gas to the house- no one in the area does- oil and gas will often change in costs, I prefer the look of gas bottles to an oil tank aesthetically, and with our narrow drive, I am not sure a tanker would fit! We are trialing turning the heating down from 20c to 19, then maybe 18- this is the new recommended temp apparently! We have underfloor heating, it is best that temp is maintained for cost effectiveness, we have it on a timer all day with the thermostat set, then off overnight as I hate getting too hot in bed. We only have radiators upstairs and the temp is only on 3, which is enough at the moment. The only way to improve on this is to look at green options, at this time we don’t have the funds, but would be happy to do this in the future.

Hubby recently changed over the electric company to the best we can get, the ways to improve on this is to use less electric! We aren’t daft, so have all energy efficient bulbs, our appliances are efficient, we turn things off at the walls, have a super efficient kettle, our cooker runs from gas (expensive!haha) and try to make sure we don’t leave lights on.

The water costs are what they are, it is difficult as we have an acre of land, in the summer it is hard as I want to water the garden and plants once the water butts are empty there is no choice! Next year we plan on adding gutters and water butts to the chickens run to help save more water. We already have some around the stable/shed though one got broken so needs replacing. We will fill buckets with water in the summer when we are waiting for the shower to warm up as a way to water plants more cheaply! Also fans of, if it is yellow let it mellow 😉

Council tax is what it is, we are in the right bracket, it is paid over 10/11 months, think it is 11! Need to double check.

The credit card is 0% until the end of 2020, I am not worried about this and will TART it to a 0% transfer card when the time comes. The link to Money Saving Expert shows the best deals, but also soft searches to tell you what card you are likely eligible for and the percentage of acceptance. The minimum payments seem a lot more on my card than hubby’s card- he has his truck balance left on his (he will have saved to pay it off when it becomes chargeable- so not worried), but his minimum payment is half what mine is! Not a problem though, as it means my balance will be a lot less when I have to tart it! I have no plans to use this card again now holidays are planned and costed out. So will be removing debt every month!

Car and House insurance is reviewed yearly and paid in full if applicable! I am paying monthly car but paid house in full last year. I am happy I shopped around and got the best deals!

We are going to work out what we are paying for dog medications, food etc as we go into 2020, we already buy a cheaper version of the dogs supplements- same ingredients, buy Red’s main medication from human pharmacy-so not much trimming room with regards to the furbabies.

We have approx 2 years remaining on our loan with which we bought the car, this is £180 a month- doesn’t matter if we pay it off early, interest is part of the repayment so doesn’t save any money. We got a really good deal on the loan when we took it out, I think it is around 1k we will pay on 10k over 5 years- rough estimate off the top of my head! Checked dates, paid for the car 16/09/2016, so less than 2 years to go!

Biggest personal savings will be on food bills I think, we really need to meal plan, but then actually make the meals as well! When I meal planned last time, I spent £57 on a weeks food shop, this included booze! I will sit hubby down at some point to make a plan of meals, including lunches at work. This will also see us having two weekly takeaways :0

Having cancelled Mental Health Magazine, Life Insurance and Zoo, we are up £81.05 in the first month of 2020! Let us see where this journey takes us!

What is frugality?

When I think of the word frugal, I won’t lie, I do automatically think of negatives such as going without, being tight fisted and being unhappy. I fully believe this is due to the world we live in being so materialistic and equating spending with happiness, or at least the awareness that when you buy something it can make you feel good, even for a moment. I fall into the trap quite often of living for the future, not in the moment. Once I buy this, once I do that, once this is achieved I will feel safe/secure/happy etc etc. Though if I break things down, I have lots of great things already, our home is amazing, for the budget we have it is as perfect as it is going to get! Yes, it does need things doing to it, some painting, tiles in the kitchen and little touch ups here and there, and perhaps some things are not to our taste, but they are fully functionable! I dislike the kitchen, but I would not replace it anytime soon as it is in great condition and functions well. One day, when we have used it to death, perhaps I can get the dream kitchen! I also have lots of clothes, if I am honest, the only clothes I may need anytime soon are: new work trousers, I wear these out! Hopefully not for a few months though and I will need new work trainers/shoes soon, I have started to wear the backs out, and as I do 12 hour shifts on my feet, they have to comfy! I do wear out trainers as I spend a lot of time in them, I tend to buy end of the line trainers from SportsDirect and they last 6-12months depending on my use. I could really do with walking boots, but I really struggle to find any that are comfortable, I get blisters on my feet so easily which is frustrating.

I looked up the definition of frugal:

1.  Practising economy, living without waste, being thrifty

2. Not costly, meagre

These are not negatives, in fact quite the opposite, who wouldn’t want to be economic, without waste and thrifty? And if I think about what is important to me: hubby, dogs, family, chickens, roof over our heads, garden, quietness, travel and feeling secure, these can all be achieved without being a spendthrift!

I have been watching Buying and Selling on ITV- I am sure it was Property Brothers when we used to have Sky! I enjoy watching house shows, I find it interesting and exciting to watch transformations, but this show is all based around consumerism, I want bigger, more expensive therefore technically better! We are a fascinating species!

I like to try and be a green person, I want to help the environment and am always interested in learning about new ways we can do that. Being less wasteful would be a huge help to the environment, eating better food, feeling more productive and hopefully achieving more as I feel better. We recently Kon Marie’d the house- freaking loved the show on Netflix! We charity shopped so many clothes it was crazy, then I have been slowly re-filling the wardrobes and drawers with new clothes, defeating the whole point!haha. I think I will look at re-doing this in the new year, emptying all the drawers etc and going through my clothes to see what gives me joy! This way I will also get the chance to see what clothes I actually own, and how much I don’t need to spend. I think clothes are an area I am spending too much and on things I don’t ‘need’. In January, I shouldn’t need to buy any clothes, though I may want too!

I have been researching making my own cleaning solutions and washing powder. I will continue to look into this and see if it is feasible for us to get going with this aspect of frugality and also being green! We will use whatever cleaners we already have to not waste anything!

Watch this space for more brain farts about January’s challenge!!

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!