Something has made me stupidly happy today…

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This is me, on my way to the bin, with a handful of chopped up (and cancelled) credit card. I’m down to one card now, which I will be keeping but locked in the filing cabinet that only has one key (and Mr AF has it on his keys).

It feels like I’ve let out a huge breath that I didn’t know I had been holding in.

I’m having a trial week of Austere August and whoops, I only have 45p left :/ but that’s why it’s a trial week! I’ve also started a well being journal as I tend to go way off track in other areas when I’m focussing so hard on one thing. I’m finding myself getting more and more stressed as I go along which is silly, so it’s time for a well being adjustment. I’ll share a page on here when I don’t feel quite so silly about it!

The way I’m going, the final institutional debt will be clear in two and a half months. The mere thought of that makes me grin from ear to ear :)

Austere August

Ok.
 
 Deep breath.
 
 I’m going to try not to spend more than £25 on stuff in August. I’ve got five £5 notes locked in the filing cabinet and I’ve dug out a change purse to keep the week’s spoils in.
 
 Weekly updates to follow.
 
 Wish me luck!
 
 
 

Simplify

In days gone by, I had… 3 current accounts, 1 joint account, 1 ISA, 11 savings accounts, 3 credit cards, and a partridge in a pear tree. I was trying to form a digital envelope system which was often accompanied by several paper envelopes and various half started spending diaries.
 
 It didn’t work.
 
 I was so disappointed – it worked for ‘everyone else’, why not me? The envelope system is usually hailed as the answer to all financial problems but I just didn’t get along with it.
 
 Maybe it’s because I’m just not ‘everyone else’.
 
 I need simplicity to be able to keep up with and stick to a system. As much as I like complex systems and money whizzing about here there and everywhere, I just can’t manage it effectively and it all goes to pot. That’s usually when I give up and crack the credit cards out. My current system is going through phases of simplification, and I’m enjoying paring it down to get it to a point where it works for me.
 
 This is the current set up:
 
 1 current account: for daily use and my bills.
 1 joint account: for the mortgage but I’m hoping to convince Mr AF to gradually have more and more of the joint bills in this account.
 3 online savers: one for next year’s household annual bills, one for next year’s car expenses, one for monthly pet expenses.
 1 groceries account: this was my Tesco credit card but now they have changed their system to prevent the card from being put into a positive balance I’m going to either open another current account with my regular bank or use a dormant current account I already have but cancel the overdraft facility. The Tesco credit card will be cancelled after this week’s shopping takes care of the remaining positive balance.
 
 As you can see I’m using the parts of the envelope system that work for me, but without having an account for every little thing.
 
 I’m also working on my exposure to debt; I’m fairly sure cancelling down some of my available but unused debt won’t hurt my credit report as I have enough sensible ‘good’ credit on there that I do use. The Tesco credit card is going; I’m sure I won’t miss a few pence worth of club card points every month and I feel freer to seek out the cheapest petrol now I haven’t got it in the back of my mind that I’ll get more club card points if I fill up at tesco. The overdraft on the current account used as my grocery account will be closed, my budgeting in this area is getting a lot better and transfers from my daily to this account go via the faster payment system anyway.
 
 I have been reading Zen Habits for a little while now and have started putting ideas from there into practice. Time to whittle down to what I need rather than rubbish that I think I need but actually just temporarily want.
 
 

Last Month’s Totals and Trying not to Go Loopy on Payday

Hello hello hello :) well, I guess this marks the end of the first month (of many) of concentrating on being more frugal. Without further ado, here’s the totals-

Groceries – £191.77/£250. I’m SO pleased with this, especially as it has been a five week month for me. This month I’m going to give the grocery budget another little squeeze as I feel that there’s still room for improvement; recipes could have been more frugal, portion sizes could have been better, my shopping could have been more prepared (I had several forgetful moments leading to another trip to the shops). One thing that I’m very proud of is that my food waste is going down! This is another thing I need to focus on. On Sunday I did a big cook up because I do have issues with my energy levels dropping dramatically without warning due to my illness. So on Sunday, I made two meals for the freezer, one for the fridge and the dinner for that evening. These weren’t complex meals but they were meals requiring more energy than I ever have mid week and will help me to avoid splurging on ready meals. The remaining meals are low energy, quick cooks like fajitas and fish and chips.

Fuel – £39.89/£90. Another big win here! I have focused on driving more efficiently, and have set my car up to beep furiously at me if I go over 50mph. On my usual journey to and from work I have no need to go over this speed, and I’ getting used to driving in a more sensible fashion. Of course, this helps not only fuel economy but it reduces the risk of accidents and speeding fines. Win, win, win, all round. This budget will be getting a tickle as well next month.

Miscellaneous – £149.22/£0. This wasn’t specifically in my budget but I still wanted to track what I was spending. This total…is rubbish, let’s be frank, but it’s nowhere near as bad as it has been previously. This will be given focus in next month’s budget.

Debt – £241.71/£170! Win! Win win win! I wanted to wrap this up on a high and I’m so pleased with this total. This month I have paid off my last interest earning debt (apart from the mortgage) and have started working on the ‘institutional debt’ kindly held by Halifax (the remaining debt is to a family member). This is now under £1000, and my aim this month was to pay off the balance transfer fee, and I’ve done that plus a little bit. It meant a lot to me to get it under £1000, and while I’m not on the home stretch with it yet, I can feel momentum building. Making payments to my debt gives me a huge thrill!

So the budgets I’m focussing on this month are as follows:

Groceries – £200. Judging by this month this should be fairly easily doable, as I will be in a four weeker for grocery shopping. It’s turning in to how low can you go whilst still feeding people!

Petrol – £75. Just a little squeeze on this one, I didn’t want to go too radical as I have a week off in this pay period and I’m looking to drive to spend some time with my mother. Still, should be doable.

Miscellaneous – £199. Still far, far more than I want to spend, but if I come in under this it will be an improvement, and that’s what we’re all about! After seeing what I spent last month in this category I felt making a budget for it was sensible, using that as a benchmark.

Debt – at least £200 paid to debt. Hoping with all the odds and ends left over from various budgets I’ll be able to smash this as so as payday! £170 is the automatic amount my debt gets, so raising this by £30 is just the beginning this month really.

Okay, well, that’s all from me tonight! Oh, and one last thing…

I’m still in the black

My Frugal Week!

This week has gone by in something of a blur. It’s the week before payday and I’m skinter than a skint thing in skintsville. I have 99p left in my bank account! I have cupboards and a freezer full of food, food growing outside, and all of my bills are covered, so I’m not too worried. I just want to make it through to Tuesday in that mythical state…In The Black.

Frugal successes this week have included another week of mainly store cupboard eating –

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Yes, one of those meals does indeed include salmon. A while ago I found some individually wrapped salmon in the chilled section, reduced to about £6 I think and I’m sure there were eight portions in the bag. Mr AF loves salmon, and served sparingly has lasted for months upon months. I love freezers. The plan is to eat down the freezers until there’s little enough to fit into the little one over the fridge to allow for some hardcore defrosting to make it more efficient and give me a bit more space in there. Also, keeping the food bill down, woohoo.

Another five. Whole. Days. At work. Ah well. 50 less hours I can spend frittering cash away. No extra cash in commission this week but that’s ok.

I mended a jeans button and an unravelled seam on a jumper this week too – why I put this off for so long I do not know as it took me about ten minutes in total and saved a good pair of jeans and one of my favourite jumpers.

I also dug the pound land potato bag. I uncovered a handful of baby new potatoes, I think you can see them in a couple of the pics above. However, I do know where I went wrong and I have a better plan for next year. However, at a cost of a pound, I’m not terribly fussed and the bag is folded up for use next year.

I found my library card! Ok so this only actually saved me a pound, but I found it and it’s still a pound!

I also bagged myself a free dinner courtesy of Mr AF, fish supper put paid to my diet that day but it was so good, didn’t cost me a penny and allowed me to use the planned meal for that night the next day.

All in all I’m so pleased with my successes this week. The week before payday normally sees me going spend crazy as I end up thinking ‘well, I’m broke already, what difference does being a bit more broke make?’ But now I can see what a difference that does make. Two days before payday, no overdrafts, no borrowing from savings, no putting inconsequential rubbish on the credit card. Today, I read this post on 1 Thrifty Thing about doing your best. It really resonated with me, and now I know better, I will do better.

Back on Tuesday with a budget update on payday!

…Too Frugal?

So I told Mr AF about this blog yesterday (shhhh, I’m a secret blogger) and he laughed and asked me if I just took a picture of my trainers every day.

Not as weird as it sounds….I’ve had these trainers for a good three years now, they were only cheapies from Sports Direct, and I do tend to wear shoes until they fall off my feet…

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Yep, that’s holes in the bottoms. They’re not quite worn all the way through though…so I can’t quite bear to throw them away. And it’s not raining, so what’s a few holes between friends?

Hmm, perhaps I am getting a bit carried away with this frugal lark…

The Little Things

I was over at Frugal Queen’s Blog and she was talking about the cost of the little things mounting up.

I must admit, there’s a lot that I don’t take into account because of the was money is divided in our relationship – he pays the bulk of the mortgage, rates and electricity, and I pay for food, insurances, the pets, phone, Internet, etc.

Mr AF can be fairly frugal, we don’t have the water heater on, for example – he showers at work everyday and I only rarely take a bath, usually preferring to shower; so the shower or the kettle heat the bulk of our water, when needed. Most things are switched off at the plug when we’re out, and we have storage heaters on economy 7 and an open fire fuelled mostly by free wood.

I’m not so good where electricity is concerned. But after reading FQ’s post on how it all builds up, I went around the house and unplugged all of the chargers not in use; I turned most things off at the socket (under cabinet lights, my bedside lamp, more chargers) and am vowing to do this on a more regular basis – we’re in this together!

Any other suggestions for saving pennies? Other than you know, literally saving pennies!

Frugal Food – a week eating out of the store cupboard

With the prospect that I might be £100 left in my grocery budget this month, I’ve taken to using up my stores to keep the bills down. So without further ado…

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From the top we have a pepper and cheese omelette, stir fry, a poached egg salad, bangers and mash and finally freezer surprise, which may or may not be a portion of chicken paprika.

Sorry this is a short one but I’m now going to crawl back into bed with a migraine!