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!

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Officially Mr and Mrs Aspiring Frugalista!

Hello there! In the midst of wedding preparations I’ve neglected my little blog something chronic. Well, the wedding is now done and dusted, I’m curled up comfy cosy in a Motorhome writing this post and contemplating the torrent of name changes I’m going to have to undertake!
 
 I’d like to share with you some of the ways we had a truly frugal wedding. I appreciate that it’s not for everyone, this doing it for under £500 lark, but it worked for us. We couldn’t justify spending a huge amount of money on one day when there’s so much that needed to be done in every day life. So, here goes (nothing I have linked to has been sponsored, just the choices I’ve made!):
 
 First of all, the clothes. My dress came from Lindy Bop. They do have a bridal section although I chose a bright blue number, for £30. Their dresses are beautifully made, I normally buy them for any occasion where I need to look smart. They also have a Made in Britain range, which can’t be bad. This dress will do double day for my work Christmas party this year too. I borrowed a petticoat from a dear friend of mine, otherwise that would have been nearly the cost of the dress! Mr AF bought a suit for job interviews, and wore that. To us, a suit is a suit. Well cared for it will stay looking smart for a long time, and he didn’t half look handsome! I think his suit, shirt (a two pack!) and his tie cost about £80 from Matalan.
 
 Secondly, the actual ceremony. There was nothing we could do about the cost of the licenses but I had found out previously at most registry offices do a midweek, early morning ceremony for not very much money. Neither of us have much in the way of family, so we opted for this with my parents as witnesses. Including the certificate it cost £50. The ceremony did take place in an office but… When we spoke the vows it was as if there was nobody else and nothing else in that moment. I’m glad we did it this way, although I appreciate that it really isn’t for everyone. But the option is there!
 
 Our cake, which is ridiculously delicious and moreish, was made by the fair hands of my dear mother. Can you make the cake yourself? Is there someone in your family that would? Perhaps they would do it as a wedding present to you. And if you get married like I did, a slice of cake sent to people to let them know seems to go down quite well!
 
 Our photographs were done by a family friend. He didn’t ask for any money although he did such a good job and stayed with us for so long that we have given him something. Do you know anyone who enjoys photography? Or anyone who would photograph your wedding in exchange for being able to use the photos in the portfolio? This one could be taking a chance though, so please tread cautiously.
 
 So, I’m going to get back to our honeymoon now! I will be back soon with another post, now life has settled down again. I really am learning to roll with the punches!
 
 

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.