Sunday, 26 January 2014

This weeks update

Stephanie has a nasty hacking cough at the moment, which means we haven't slept well this week. I have been so tired that I have not stuck well to our no spend days. I gave in on Thursday and bought myself a bag of crisps and fizzy drink when my colleague went to the shop. Friday I bought a Chinese (whoops!)
I have been better over the weekend. I went to the shop on Saturday and bought a small box of washing powder as I had completely run out and I couldn't get to the supermarket until today as I had my sister's children for her yesterday.

Having my sister's 3 was lovely. How quickly you forget how much can be done with a tiny baby. It's the first time I have had the baby. it was lovely but exhausting. By the end o the day we were getting used to eachothers ways! LOL
Today we did our bigger monthly shop for toiletries as well as food. I spent a whopping £58.54, minus some vouchers i had to use up so i paid £57.24. We all needed new footwear today so an extra £41.00. Then filled the car  £44.42.
This afternoon Stephanie asked to make herself a new bag. So here she is getting started;

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Weekly round up of goals

I have been shopping today for the bits and pieces we need for the next week. I have bought what was on the list, although I shopped at 3 different stores today- normally I don't do this.

It came about because Stephanie had a one off (free!) diving lesson at the sports centre where my gym is. As they have a whole weekend of different water based activities there is no charge for parking. Although if you park and use the leisure centre parking is refunded usually anyway. I digress.

After Stephanie's lesson she went to her dad's for the weekend, I took the opportunity of the free parking space to walk to the town and pay in a cheque at the bank. The lesson had been an hour long, I thought it was only half hour so was very peckish walking up to the high street so I decided to go into Wilkinsons and buy the cheapest sandwich/lunch snack I could as I was popping in there for some toothpaste. There were no sandwiches there which I like so I bought a drink as they were on offer, as was the toothpaste. So I popped in the coop and get my sandwich., £1.10 I didn't buy anything else in here. I ate it as I went back to the leisure  centre. Then I went in and spent an hour in the gym making myself hot and sweaty.

Then headed to my supermarket of choice. I was very good walking around only buying from the list. My shopping in there only came to £7.21 as I had these

yup that's £4.15 in price match vouchers. Thank you to my sister shopping, deciding its too expensive and donating the voucher to me (she brand shops, I don't so have no issue with the pricing). I really needed some cooking oil and their shelves were almost empty, except for the expensive £4 a bottle ones. Sorry I'd rather do without than pay that.
So I popped into the little aldi on the way home. I don't usually shop in there as it's a mess in there and I hate the tiny awkward carpark. However I need to get over this looking at some of the prices as I wandered around! I think I may need to build in a visit in there for bits and then decide if I need to go to the other supermarket afterwards!

So this weeks total shop came to £16.80, including lunch 'out'. So £3.20 to add to the savings account. Taking my emergency funds to 15% of its target total.

I also filled the car, last Sunday's outing ate into my petrol reserve so the full budgeted for £30 went in this week.

My no spend days currently stand at 12/240 so far. I am finding this easier as the month goes on, I even went to the shop at lunchtime with a colleague and didn't buy anything for myself. That is a big step for me, I usually can't resist getting a little chocolate bar/bag of crisps. I think that we still have so much of that left at home from Christmas I have been putting it in my lunch so I don't feel the need to buy. I don't eat it most days, just get comfort from knowing if want to I can! LOL

So far so good with the aims for this year. I hope yours are going well too.

Friday, 17 January 2014


My washing machine broke back in November when it was still in its 5 year guarantee. It was a fairly big replacement apparently and other problems being flagged. Since new year the machine has been making some very dodgy noises including a very loud spin cycle, knocking/ rasping sounds. This evening it is no longer spinning. Oh-oh!

I could panic about this but I don't need to. Not because I'm suddenly flushed with a massively larger income, but because I have savings!
Nothing massive but enough to cover the cost of a new machine. I also have the means to replace those savings already sat in my purse. what a stroke of luck, it couldn't have worked out better.

Several years ago I privately rented a house for me and the children. My dad had been guarantor for me on this home. It turns out after I moved out a cheque had been sent to me which I never received/knew anything about. A fortnight ago my Dad phoned me to say the letting agent had phoned him to ask if he had contact details for me, as they had found a cheque they had sent to me after I moved out was never cashed. So they sent cheque to Dad, who has forwarded it onto me. That's £197.41 I didn't have. What amazing timing! I can't believe my luck.

I have just ordered a new washing machine using some of my savings. It will go straight back as soon as the cheque clears. I have ordered my machine from appliances online. I am very impressed as I will have my machine delivered on Sunday for no extra charge- a company that can deliver around my work and for free BONUS. They were recommended to me by a friend when I said my machine is sounding ropey. Let's hope I am as impressed as my friend was. I am after a new freezer later in the year.

Oh and an added extra- I get cash back from quidco for this purchase too.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

RIP faithful friend!

Today we went to a country park with my sister and her family. We organised lunch between us based on the foods we both had. Part of the bargain was that I brought a flask of hot chocolate! There is a café on site which my sister and her family would normally have used. I think I have converted them to bringing their own and saving around £7 per outing in hot drinks.

We did discover that one of my old faithful's is past its best. The hot chocolate in here was only just warm today, which suited everybody else but fussy hot drink person that I am I like mine just out of the kettle.

This one has worn out, I have had my flasks for around 7 years they have done a great job of warming us up, especially after a day like this;

Yep that's just a little of the mud we all got covered in. We are not bothered by the time of year, with adequate clothing there is no such thing as too cold in our family. I'm so pleased I have converted my sister to this way of thinking too as the children love to be out and running around.
I still have one 1 litre flask left and my tiny flask which holds enough soup for Stephanie and me (Dylan doesn't eat soup). So I'm not in a hurry for a replacement yet. But I'm thinking if one has gone will the others be long?
I also popped to the supermarket today for food and fuel. I needed to put the full budgeted £30 in today- I went slightly over at £30.02 silly nozzles! however my grocery shop was under the £20.00 budget so that accounted for the extra 2p! LOL My groceries came to £14.49  I had a 38p voucher so cost me £14.11 add the 2p for fuel totals £14.13. Our trip out cost £2 in parking, but I found 70p as we walked so really only £1.30. take this out of the left over grocery budget and that is £4.59 left over. this is transferred to the squirrel account for our emergency fund. Which means I am now 14% of the way towards the £500 target.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014


Who doesn't love a freebie?
I have been looking at different ways of earning extra cash, I joined inboxpounds last year to earn a little more. It is not great earnings it has taken me a year to get to todays earnings £11.71. You get a payout when you reach £20.00. I have built this amount up by taking part in some of the surveys they send me, by clicking email links, and using the search engine on their website. The other day I noticed  a banner on their website where you get a graze box for free.
As well as keeping my finances healthy this year I would like to make a healthy me so this offer appealed to me as a way of getting ideas for healthy snacks I can take to work with me. I won't be keeping the subscription and there is no minimum order cancellation fee. This is my freebie box

Each of the four packets are the length of my hand to give you a rough idea of the size. in one box I have a healthy popping corn which is lightly salted.
the dark rocky road has dark chocolate buttons, cranberries and pecan nuts.
Super berry detox- blueberries, cranberries, goji berries and green raisins.
Shangri-La has lingonberries, pineapple, almond slices and pumpkin seeds.

This box would normally cost £3.99!! that's £1 per packet. loads of money. I could build up a stash of dried berries from the supermarket which would make many more than 4 boxes so costing a fraction of the cost of these.

I look forward to trying these and discovering which of the dried fruit I like so I know what to put on my shopping list and hunt out when I go shopping to see if they can fit into my budget sometime soon.

I have been putting items on my newly organised kitchen lists so that I don't spend on items I don't need when I go shopping.

My calendar with lots of sections so we can have a school column and then a column each. There is a shopping list for me to add items to. The picture next to it I use as a meal planner. it has a picture of Dylan and Stephanie on a day out, I write on it in a whiteboard pen so that I can rub it out weekly and re-write. It being a picture of a fun day out helps me to maintain focus on planning and sticking to the plans. If I stick to the plan I can afford to have more fun days out like the one in the picture. :-)

Tuesday, 7 January 2014


I have saved the overpayment for the car for the January already see here for my plans with this, so I have turned my focus to save an emergency fund as prompted by Elaine over at mortgage free in 3.
I had already began to think about setting up one, using an old passbook savings account
I have at the building society. Reading through Elaine's January challenge has prompted me to pull on my big girl knickers and get on with it!
I have my notebook sorted;
that little grid has 100 squares on it- £5.00 per square every time I send money across I colour in the corresponding amount of squares- I like to see how quickly they are filling up- I'm already on my second row!I can't wait until they are full, I like to meet a challenge.
I have also been recording in my little diary what I spend each day;

and any no spend days- I have already completed 5 no spend days this year. Only 235 no spend days to go to reach my target for 2014!

How are you goals for 2014 coming along?

Monday, 6 January 2014


This month my car insurance is due. This means that I spend a while on various comparison websites trying to get the cheapest deal possible.

This year I was pleasantly surprised. The quote I have received from the insurers I have been with previously increased every year, despite me not having any accidents/ speeding points or other offences which may affect my premiums. This means that I never stay with the same insurer, I change yearly. The worst has to be the year an insurer wanted to double my premium!

So once I received the renewal letter I started to search all those sites we know the adverts for, then I looked on quidco and topcashback to see what their searches all say. Even taking into account the cash back available from these sites. My current insurer are the cheapest this year- my premium has even gone down! I am so pleased. As I pay monthly it works out at  around £4.00 a month cheaper this year. I am a happy bunny.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Making the most of what we have

If I am to achieve all of my savings goals we also need to make the most of what we already have. I have a full freezer, a full store cupboard and lots in the fridge. I don't want ot waste any of it. We will be eating out of these for the next month- longer if I can stretch it that far and I'm sure I can.

Here are some pictures of what we have eaten so far:

Yummy toad in the holes. I stopped making toad in the hole as I don't like soggy bottoms. I saw the idea for making mini ones over on Elaine's blog. Such a common sense idea- and perfect. We no longer are put off by soggy bottoms. These were delicious.

Dylan made these yummy meatballs in a spicy tomato sauce, using only items from the kitchen.

this was left over roast lamb, my stir's contribution to Christmas lunch. Eaten with some salad etc lurking in the fridge.
Stuffed peppers, more of the lurking salad and some cous cous

These bananas were turned into 2 banana loaves. Which once cooked and cooled were sliced and put into portions before freezing.

This is the left over turkey portion up before it went in the freezer.

These were all organised/eaten over the Christmas period.
Yesterday Dylan and I had some of the party food I bought on half price. The day before was enchiladas. They were made all slightly different as Stephanie doesn't like spicy food so has hers plan. I had mushrooms added to my chicken as they needed using. Dylan doesn't like mushrooms so had his with just meat. I used an approved foods enchilada kit. They were either 99p or 2 for 99p, either way very cheap!


 here they all are plated up!
Today we are having a roast- gammon from the freezer, veg and potatoes already in and the Yorkshires made from what was already in the kitchen. I have made enough to plate up a dinner each as a microwave dinner for after school tomorrow. Fast and easy as I know we are all gong to be tired, first day back is always a killer!
I have also portion up some fruit salad;

This melon doesn't look so great does it! Would be tempting to just through it out. But look;

inside it is still perfect!

I sliced it all up and put it in a Tupperware;

perfect for snacking on/ throwing in the blender for  a busy breakfast smoothie. I then added in this reduced water melon I bought on Friday.

looks like a perfect snack doesn't it. I was so good and didn't pick any- the smell of dinner cooking kept me on the straight and narrow! LOL

 I didn't waste the skins either- slice them up lots smaller and into the compost they went. Wait a few months and perfect compost for our garden. There has been a busy spider out there this afternoon, let's gloss over the spider dance to get tot the compost bin!

I am also trying to reduce our inedible waste so have started to save milk bottles to make a living garden fence; I have two like this so far;

I can't wait to get them planted up- the plan is for my own version of this to develop;

(picture from google)


Saturday, 4 January 2014

Making the most of it!

As a family we hold several membership cards;
1.national trust, costs me £55.50 per year
 2.English heritage, £37.00 per year
3.gym membership 18.00 for me £10.00 for Dylan per month so yearly costs- £336!
4. zoo membership. £23 for me £19.95 per child (although Dylan's dad paid for his) so cost me £31.95 per year.

So for memberships I am spending a whopping £460.45! Put like that it is a massive amount, now these are all due at different times of the year so I am able to spread them out, but still as a yearly cost that is a lot. I need to know I am getting my moneys worth from each of these.
This year I am planning on tracking our use of each of these to make sure that they are worthwhile for our family. I am adding a page on the blog here so that I can track their use, each time we use one of these cards I will track the visit and the cost had we not got our membership. They need to at least balance with the cost of the membership- although preferably I want them to be saving me money.

Friday, 3 January 2014


I am determined to maintain focus on being frugal. I do want to still have fun days out though. Back in September I went on a day out to the zoo with family, the entrance fee gives you a year long pass to the zoo so today we went to the zoo. Stephanie wasn't with me when we went before so I had to pay for her today. However when we went to Disneyland we didn't spend all of the money I had saved. I changed up the 75 Euros we had left- it came out at around £55.00- not bad! So I used some of this to pay for Stephanie's entrance fee.

We saved money by taking a pack up. No money spent on food/drink.

We got to see lots of animals very closely. We were following one of the rangers around as he was feeding the big cats. Stephanie was fascinated that they eat horse!

As the zoo was not very busy we were able to get close to all signs/ animals. Stephanie really enjoyed reading all the information boards.
We warmed up in the car afterwards with a hot chocolate from the flask I had made.
On the way home we popped in Tesco. I got some fruit, milk, yoghurt, bread. I also got a large box of Maryland cookies for £1.50. They have been put away for when we go camping later in the year.
I spent £17.48. So less than the £20.00 I had budgeted for this weeks shopping. I am aiming to spend no more than £20.00 each week. Which means I am going to transfer £2.52 into my 'squirrel account'. For more information on this hop on over to Elaine's blog she explains it here. I am following Elaine's "30 days of thrift" throughout January in order to help build up an emergency fund. I am 9% of the way towards my goal already.
I then filled the car- I have budgeted for £30.00 of fuel per week. I filled up the tank completely the other day to get me started. I plan on keeping the tank full by topping up weekly. So then if I have a week when money really does get tight I shall be able to get to work without worry as I know there is enough in the tank already. I filled it up on the 31st December completely. Today I topped up to have a full tank again I put in 17.98. As it is under the 30.00 level I have sent over the change to my savings- another £12.02 to add to the emergency pot. bringing the total in their up to £58.69! So I am 11% towards my target. Looking at it this week makes it seem so much easier to get to the £500 target. Shifting small amounts of money as and when it's available.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Bucket list item number 30

Last night we decided to have a campout in our living room, this is item number 30 on my  bucket list.
My niece and nephew also came to stay so this was great fun for the children. The littlest is only 3 and managed to stay awake until just before 9, The girls went to sleep shortly after 10. Dylan decided it was uncomfortable and went up to bed once my nephew had fallen asleep!

we watched the Disney film brave and had home made popcorn in bed before we went off to sleep. I shared the pictures with my sister on Facebook and now have envy from my other nieces and nephews that didn't come. Apparently we will be doing this more now. I'm pleased as it is fun and the children loved it. I was a little worried that they would be uncomfortable and wake up in the night demanding beds- in fact they didn't wake until 8 am! Result!

|So items on the bucket list are happening, which is fantastic I like that we are being able to have different experiences. Stephanie has added an item of her own- she wants to go to the play park in the dark. The weather has been rather wet to enjoy a play park with out getting soaked at the moment, however, it is dry today- who knows what we will do this evening especially if the weather stays dry :-)