Monthly Archives: August 2010

Back on track

We’ve had a lovely lazy day, enjoying the sun and hanging out with friends who cooked a gorgeous lunch. Not much spending today: £30 on petrol (a necessity) and £3.17 (weird amount I know) for a cake to take to our friends house.

We seem to have a reasonable amount of food in the house so I’m going to see if I can avoid doing a ‘big’ food order and get by on what we’ve got, maybe with a couple of extra purchases to turn random ingredients into actual meals. I’ll post on this tomorrow if I get anywhere with this plan!

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A weird (and not very frugal) spending day

Oh dear, and the Frugal Fortnight was going so well…

I forgot to post yesterday (I remembered I hadn’t done it at 3am when I was feeding baby) but since I didn’t spend anything it is fairly easy to summarise as pretty good. Today, not so much. Husband didn’t have to work today, which is pretty rare for a Bank Holiday weekend, and suggested going into town (as in our nearest big town, not the little town where we live). Hmm, I thought. Dangerous and yet appealing. Sunny day, no more rain, why not?

First stop was Boots (necessary as we had an exploding nappy situation en route and ran out of wipes) and I found myself propelled by a mysterious, magnetic force to the Benefit cosmetics counter. I say propelled but what I mean is I made a beeline for it. I often find myself lingering by the Benefit counter but haven’t actually bought anything at it for over two years. Lately I’ve had a thing for one of their eyeshadows (a shade inexplicably called ‘buns’ if you’re interested) but at £13.50 a pop, and with a box full of eyeshadows at home, I’ve resisted. Until now. I’m sure Rimmel or some other brand do something similar but I wanted this one. Luckily I have been stashing my Advantage card points for quite some time (my balance was well over £50) so I actually got it free of charge. So, good shoestring points for getting it for free, possibly bad frugal points for not getting a cheaper brand that may have been much the same (except I doubt it would be quite so satisfying on this occasion).

Next stop was Accessorize. A bit of planned spending went on here. I’d seen a bag and had, for some weeks, had a real yen for it. I’d already had a word with myself about this (being a so-called reformed bagaholic) as, even post-decluttering, I don’t need a new bag. Want – yes. Need – no. Then my lovely Gran gave me £20 to get myself a post-pregnancy treat. The exact cost of the bag I had been eyeing up. Fate, no? And I managed to look at all of the twinkly displays without buying a single other thing. Impressive.

Next up was Paperchase – the mothership. A reasonable amount of control was displayed. I bought two birthday cards, some inserts for my recipe folder, some inserts for my Baby Journal and an A4 pad for my new course (more on this another time). All very practical as they are things that will be used in the next week or so, so not bad.

At this point I had already bought a new bag, new eyeshadow and some bits of stationery. I’d only used about £10 of my £249 budget as the bag was a gift and I’d also used my Advantage card points instead of cash. On our way back to the car, however, we walked past New Look and there was a cardigan in the window that made me stop and do the walk backwards thing. Uh-oh. I’ve been ignoring clothes but this item was so ridiculously ‘me’ that I literally had to have it. And only £18! From New Look! How often does that happen? The shopping frenzy had fully taken hold by this point and I bought another cardigan as well – one that looked almost identical to the one from Gap that was recently savaged by moths but less than half the price. Total spend £36 (which is really pretty good for two cardigans). 

Since I hadn’t managed to get around to doing an online food order we decided to stop at the big Tesco on the outskirts of town to get supplies to last us for a few days. Generally I don’t like to shop without a list (very, very bad for the budget) but we didn’t do too badly and only bought things we needed. Alas, I don’t know exactly how much we spent as Husband was dealing with the card and lost the receipt. I wasn’t paying attention as Baby and I were entertaining ourselves by sticking our tongues out at each other and laughing. It’s all about priorities. Husband says it was about £30. I’ll take his word for it.

So, as the title suggests, it was a bit of a weird spending day. Weird because I managed to get lots of new things but actually spent less than £50 of my budget for the fortnight (not including the food shopping which I would have had to get anyway). Not very frugal because I didn’t really need any of the things I bought.

And yet. Although I have been trying to have a Frugal Fortnight and haven’t been very frugal, I haven’t really gone off track too far either. I could afford these things – I had the money in my account and I didn’t use credit to buy any of it. It just means I’ll be saving a bit less than I’d hoped. Now if I’m off play with my new toys…

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Frugal fortnight: Day 4 (plus week 5 weigh-in)

Things are picking up a bit on the weight-loss front this week. I’ve made an effort to eat more (this is a diet that doesn’t work if you don’t eat proper meals – one of the reasons I like it so much) and I’ve lost 1.5 pounds taking my total lost (since tracking it on here) to 8 pounds. Nice to cross the half stone mark! I also feel a lot better for not relying on emergency sugary snacks to get an energy boost because I’ve forgotton to eat breakfast or lunch, which is very easy to do when you haven’t slept and have a serious case of brain-fog…

It’s been another rainy day so baby and I went to visit some new friends from our local baby clinic and spent the afternoon swapping pregnancy/birth stories – always gripping when you’ve just been through it all! We’ve got a LoveFilm DVD waiting at home for this evening (Series 2 of Burn Notice, my current favourite) and I’m making a courgette pasta dish using some – free! – courgettes given to us by our neighbours who have an allotment. A fairly frugal day all round…

Today’s spending:

  • Packet of cookies to take to friends house – £1.35

From the shoestring kitchen: Weetabix, Ryvittas with cheese spread and ham, a slice of toast with jam, half a melon, grapes, a banana, fat free fruit yoghurt, 2 chocolate cookies, Courgette pasta (using courgettes, creme fraiche, garlic, lemon juice and fresh basil) and probably some chopped up fruit and yoghurt to follow.

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Frugal fortnight: Day 3

It rained so much today I nearly made myself a bowl of porridge and read Jane Eyre (October activities in case you’re wondering). What I actually did was go to baby clinic to get baby weighed (another healthy weight gain this week) and meet up with some friends, visit Mum and Dad and do a spot of reading. I’m still loving my local library. It’s only small but I always find something and it keeps me entertained for FREE! I’m currently reading The Behaviour of Moths by Poppy Adams and I actually managed to read a decent chunk of it today as baby girl had a long afternoon nap. The only bit of shopping I did today was in placing an order with Amazon for an Arthur Ransome book (I’m having a Swallows and Amazons phase at the moment. Anyone else think kids books aren’t just for kids?) and my library, great though it is, doesn’t have any of his titles. I’m hoping the weather sorts itself out a bit so I can go for a walk sometime this week!

Today’s spending:

£4.65

From the shoestring kitchen: Weetabix (I thought of you, Kat!), Omlette and salad, Pate and ryvittas, a slice of toast, a fairy cake (what can I say? When someone offers you home-made cake you take it), the rest of the pork casserole made yesterday with mash (this time made with sweet potatoes) followed by grapes and melon with yoghurt.

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Frugal fortnight: Day 2

It’s been a pottering kind of day today with most of the afternoon spent at my parents house. I did a bit of typing for Dad, read my book, made a quiche with Mum, found new and inventive ways of making baby laugh and attempted to catch up on some sleep while she was napping (it didn’t work -no matter how exhausted I am I cannot sleep in the day. A seriously annoying trait when you’ve only had about 4 hours sleep and not all of that in one go!). The diet has, once more, gone totally out of the window as Dad gave me some Maltesers and Husband bought me a Flake. Oh well. I also managed to eat a reasonable quantity of Nutella after dinner. Speaking of which, the slow cooker is still proving to be worth every one of the £12 spent on it. I threw the ingredients in before leaving the house and then Husband made some mashed potato to go with it this evening. I made enough so we’ve got plenty for dinner tommorow too…

Today’s spending:

Nothing!

From the shoestring kitchen: Half a honeydew melon, a fat-free yoghurt, Omlette and salad, grapes, Pork casserole (pork, carrots, leeks, haricot beans, a cooking apple, stock and tomato puree) with mashed potato. And all of the aforementioned chocolate…

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Frugal Fortnight

Since my income (£249 maternity allowance) is paid fortnightly, I’ve decided to attempt a frugal fortnight and see if I can actually save any of it! The £249 will need to cover:

  • Food shop x 2
  • Petrol
  • Mobile phone credit
  • General spending/expenses

While I haven’t been going mad spending I do feel like I’ve lost my shoestring mojo lately and am hoping that, with a bit of focus, I can get it back!

The food shop arrived today. I’m still getting it delivered as it saves such a lot of time and hassle and I’m still pretty knackered most of the time so I do think this is money well spent. Particularly considering that it would have cost at least half of the delivery fee to drive to the supermarket! I’ve written out a proper meal plan and the fridge is now bulging with goodies so a) I should actually be eating properly this week and b) we shouldn’t be wasting anything!

Today’s spending:

  • Food: £52.41

From the Shoestring Kitchen: 2 Weetabix with semi-skimmed milk, Ryvittas with soft cheese and ham plus a salad, fat free yoghurt, grapes, Carbonara (using pasta, bacon, mushrooms, garlic, a little olive oil, creme fraiche and a sprinkling of grated cheese) and raspberries with single cream. Note for tomorrow – must drink water and not just endless cups of tea!

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Weigh-in: week 4

Hmm. The whole weight loss thing isn’t really going so well. Why? That would be because I haven’t really been doing the diet. In fact, I haven’t been sticking to the meal planning thing either. Or done much in the way of walking. So no real surprises! I’m placing my next food order over the weekend to arrive on Monday so I’m going to sit down, work out a proper plan and stick to it. I’ve lost half a pound over the last week but hope a bit more effort will pay off with a bit more weight lost next week. I used to eat loads of fruit but have barely eaten one portion a day since I had baby – I never seem to have enough time (or hands) to chop up some melon or whatever. There is a simple answer to all of the above: more effort required!

To continue the theme of unravelled plans, I seem to have rather lost track of my finances over the last week so Monday will also be the start of a fresh budget.

Monday is the day to get back on track all round!

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Weigh-in: week 3

Drum roll please – I have lost…1 pound. Oh well, better a pound off than a pound on! Another £10 to go in the pot. I’m actually surprised I hadn’t put anything on this week. I seem to have developed a thing for garlic bread in the last week, not to mention chocolate and various other snacks. Actually, I can safely say I’ve been pretty much off diet for the past week. The only reason I’ve lost anything at all is because I’ve been using my new slow cooker (meat, veg and stock cubes – no naughties in there) so at least our dinners have been very healthy!

A lot of people told me that breastfeeding would make the weight just ‘fall off’. Er. Well. This was true for my friend who had her baby 8 weeks before me and who is now back to her pre-pregnancy weight. For me however, this hasn’t been the case. I lost a few pounds the first week and then, over a period of 5 weeks, I only lost one pound. Still, this diet is hardly a taxing one as I get to eat all of my favourite things – I just need to keep the balance right…

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How do you organise your savings?

As baby is beginning to get into a routine of going to bed earlier in the evening I’ve had a few pockets of time to finally get around to sorting out my savings accounts and plans. I have several savings accounts attached to my current account and, over the last few months, I’ve been experimenting with the best ways to use them. I’ve mentioned before that I’m not great at saving up for Christmas, for example, and it seems that that hasn’t changed much. It also seems that I’m no good at putting money back for a holiday fund when I don’t actually have anything booked. In fact, I have found that the bigger variety of savings funds that I have, the more confused I get and the less I actually save. Since the next year is going to be a bit of an odd time financially (my income is the basic maternity allowance) I don’t have the potential to save very much. But just because I can no longer put back £500 or so a month doesn’t mean I don’t want to keep going so I wanted to get my savings accounts organised thus, if I do manage to put back £20 here and there I know exactly where to put it. I have shifted various funds around, reallocated accounts and have come up with the following:

  • Maternity leave fund: This is solely for the money I saved to contribute to the joint account each month (which pays all of our bills by direct debit and standing order) while on maternity leave.
  • Baby account: We now receive £81.20 every 4 weeks in child allowance/benefit. It took me a while to decide what to do with this but, for the duration of my paid maternity leave or unless circumstances change, I will transfer the full amount to the baby account to be used for all baby supplies and activities.
  • Joint savings: Earlier this year I mentioned that I had reorganised our payments into our joint account. We put the same amount in each month but this frequently includes overpayments (for example, payments for the TV licence, around £37, are only taken out quarterly but we put £37 back every month). Also the phone bill varies each month so we have budgeted a higher figure than we anticipate using each month. At the end of each month whatever funds are left over are now transferred to the joint savings which we use for various odds and ends such as dental treatment and car maintenance. It is unlikely to ever add up to a great amount but it is good to know we have a bit of back-up for essentials! 

My emergency fund is sitting in an ISA and we still have a savings account for the last of our home improvements money (just enough left to do the front door). The biggest change has been getting rid of various accounts allocated for things like Christmas, holidays or whatever project I’ve had on the go and instead having a much more simple…

  • General savings fund: Basically anything I do manage to save will go here and, as it builds up, can be used for Christmas, birthdays, going out, holidays, clothes, the future – whatever really! This is the easiest option until I’m earning a significant amount of money again.

How do you organise your savings? Do you find it easier to have one main savings account or do you prefer to have different accounts for differents fund (such as Christmas, holidays, deposit for a house, home improvements and so on)?

Categories: Budgeting, Money Management, Saving | 3 Comments

Fortnightly Finance Round-up

Here’s my spending round-up for the last fortnight:

  • Food/groceries plus delivery charge – approx. £90
  • Slow cooker £12
  • LoveFilm membership – £12.99
  • Vodafone credit – £10
  • Books – £24
  • Eating out – £27
  • Baby supplies – £12
  • Weight loss/ new clothes fund – £50
  • Misc. (car parking, magazine, stamps etc) – £11

So, I managed to stay within budget but, aside from the £10 per lb clothes fund, I didn’t manage to save anything either. I was also helped out by the fact that I didn’t have to put petrol in the car over the past couple of weeks. Still, I managed to get myself a slow cooker (yay – more on this another day), two books relating to my diet (which I’m not following that closely as yet but it seems to be working anyway) and the latest book by Kathleen Tessaro.

My budget for the next fortnight once again is £249. This will have to include petrol (ouch) but I haven’t got any major things coming up that I need to buy so it should be fine. It would be nice to be able to put something in my general savings fund this time!

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