2015 – Come so far in some ways, zooming backwards in others…

So, it’s almost 2016. This year is going to be MY YEAR – I’ve already decided. So I thought I’d have a quick look back at what I achieved and didn’t achieve last year.

  • I paid off my remaining debt – £1480. It doesn’t seem a whole lot to people, I know, but what with two redundancies for Mr, and me taking on a lot more financial responsibility in our home, it felt like a mountain to climb to me.
  • I didn’t add any more debt! This one was a bigger mountain. We’ve had two veterinary emergencies in the past few months (one incidental, one through carelessness) which have wiped my emergency fund down to about £300 from the lofty heights it had reached. But, if it wasn’t for that, I’d be another £800 in debt. So I’m still counting this as a win!
  • On the other hand, I’m still far, far too spendy. The past couple of months have been better, but they’ve been better out of necessity, not choice. This is one I want to work on in the new year.
  • But to end this list on a positive, we’ve made £1500 worth of overpayments to our mortgage! It doesn’t seem like a lot to many I’m sure, but it means a lot to me. That’s approximately 13-15 months off our term.

So, my goals for 2016? I came up with these a little while ago, most of them are to do with my health, but here we go:

  • Take part in the local 10k ‘race’ – even if I have to walk it, I will take part.
  • Run/jog a 5km race – there’s one in the summer so am aiming for that.
  • Cycle 50 miles! Mr AF is passionate about cycling, so this is one he’s helping me train for, now I have a saddle for my bike that doesn’t feel like a medieval torture device.
  • Reach my goal weight. It’s time to stop messing around with this one, I need the excess weight gone! I’m currently working on this and have a series of goals set  up for myself. Weigh in is tomorrow, so I’ve got my bench mark for going in to the new year.
  • Overpay over £3000 to the mortgage. This means keeping up by monthly £250 payment, but I’m also putting our two ‘free’ council tax months towards it, some money Mr AF has put into the joint account, and the small refund from the electricity company. If we run into financial difficulties later in the year I can ease up, but it will be nice to be almost halfway to that target at the end of the first quarter. With any luck we can keep going at it and smash that target.
  • Submit monthly electricity readings. This bill time, the meter reader did not come back to take our reading, and so they supplied up with an estimated bill. Which was almost 1500 daytime units too high, putting us into debt with the electricity company, and making the vein on my temple try to leap out and strangle me, Stressed Eric style. When I submitted the reading online? We’re now in credit. This will encourage me to keep an eye on our usage as well, and get it down as far as possible without turning us into Victorian paupers.

What are your goals for next year? I’ve got a good feeling about 2016!

Wasting food, my secret shame

So, we’ve all read the articles and seen the TV programmes about food waste – 1.3 billion tonnes, was it? I read an article which said £60 a month is thrown away by the average family.

Okay, so I don’t throw away that much (being frugal-ish, £60 a month is over a quarter of my food budget) but I do throw food away. Last night’s victims were an elderly butternut squash (it’s crime was having lots of fuzzy, white mould or mildew on it, not just being elderly) and, the one that broke my heart, a honeydew melon that I had neglected then forgotten about. What’s that, £3 into the bin? Something like that.

So there’s my The Frugal Girl style confession – not quite food waste Friday but Saturday will have to do!

The one thing I do usually manage to save are the black bananas for banana bread –

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This one was a triumph – I think it’s the first one I’ve made that wasn’t soggy at the bottom, and it not only saved three bananas from the bin, it provided a less chemical laden snack for Mr Aspiring Frugalista to munch on over a few days.

I also like to donate to the local food bank run by The Trussell Trust – hey have drop off points all over the place and I was so glad to see that my local Tesco have FINALLY kept their donation point permanent this year. I’ve had tins etc that were bought in good faith for the hubs and when they remained uneaten (but still in date) they’ve been donated, rather than left to fester, go out of date, and never get eaten. If you can make room for a couple of pounds in your food budget to be spare, you’d be surprised what you can donate in food goods.

I’m also starting to frequent the Love Food Hate Waste site for ideas, and Abel and Cole have a great section on their site with veggie recipes, searchable by vegetable. Then of course, there’s the amazing A Girl Called Jack, whose site should be required reading for anyone wanting to cook on a low budget! She really can do so much with so little; and I admire the way she has used her success to benefit others and draw attention to the plight facing people on the poverty line.

And finally, please check out this Guardian article about food waste initiatives around the world – if nothing else it’s a really interesting read!

Thank you for reading, until next time!

 

Well Hello There!

I’m still around and doing my best. So much has happened in the past few months; I lost all of my focus on everything but kept plodding away at creating our own personal slice of freedom.

So far, we have made £1500 worth of overpayments to our mortgage. When I look at how much comes off the capital with each monthly payment that equals roughly 15 months! 15 months closer to our goal of completely owning our house, 15 months closer to my goal of being able to step back from working my fingers to the bone and enjoy life more! My next overpayment date is coming in January, what a way to beat the winter blues.

On a not so good note, The Princess had a tumour on her nail bed, which had to be removed. We decided to go all in and get a dental done, walking away with a slightly teeth grinding (pun not intended) bill for almost £400. She has her own savings account so it wasn’t too painful, and my husband did put in some cash too but it has depleted my spare cash down to pretty much nothing for a while. That’s okay though, she’s happier and not in pain so we can live with scrimping and saving! I’m starting to think that we must be getting a frequent flyer discount at the vet as they charge us very little for follow up visits. It’s always worth a box of Roses and a friendly disposition!

Also, my Grandfather passed away. It had been very difficult for us due to some family drama which I will not go in to here, but I went totally spiralling out of control for a while. I had rediscovered the Paypal pay after delivery option, which is great for getting the food for our foster hound, but not so great when you’re having an out of control spending spree. My bank account is now clear of all Paypal payments, but I’m having to very carefully budget for the next few months to be able to do all the things I want to do. I’m grasping on to my last shreds of control like a drowning woman, but I know that they are what will get me through.

Speaking of which, control is what’s getting me through. So many unpleasant and traumatic things have befallen us as a couple in the past months that I truly felt my life was spiralling out of control. I’ve gone from being truthfully calm and settled, to a seething pit of rage, to trying to get on the road to being me again. An important part of that has been regaining control of the two things in life I should always be able to control – what goes in my mouth and what comes out of my purse.  I’ve not spent an unbudgeted for penny this month! I know! Who could believe it? And part of that has been not going to the supermarket three times a day to fritter money away on snacks and god knows what else. (I appreciate it seems not far on in the month but my month starts on payday!)

Well, we’re being whipped around by Storm Desmond – no rain here yet but the wind carried me swiftly down to the post box and back and the dogs may end up in Kansas next time they go out. Stay safe!