Monday, 27 February 2017

Thrifty Times :: February Update

Hello Lovely people,
I'm back taking about  money (well my attempts at saving it) today. It's a slightly odd feeling as it's not something I usually share here, but I had so many great and helpful comments on my first Thrifty post HERE I thought I would carry on with a monthly update.

I've got quiet a few random photos so I'll explain those first and then record some other money saving and waste reduction ideas I've been trying.

First up is food storage. Lately I've been keeping more fresh food in the fridge. My fruit bowl now only contains bananas. With apples and citrus fruits kept chilled to last longer. I'm really pleased with this more green tangerines :0)

I did start putting my potatoes in the fridge too, but apparently that's not advisable so I had to stop.

Moving from the fridge to the freezer. I have a large upright freezer that I inherited from  my Nanna. I LOVE it. She had it to store all the produce from Grandad's allotment.
I use it to take advantage of offers on both frozen and fresh food. I also stock up on bread for the week at supermarket prices. Here I've divided a loaf to freeze half for later.

My freezer is great for bulk cooked items too. Last week we enjoyed crumble made with free berries the boys were given back in July.

There's still some left too.

I've also been making an effort to meal plan. This is not like me, but having an idea of what the main meals are going to be for the coming week makes it much easier to shop efficiently and avoid buying things we don't need. It makes me look in the cupboards, fridge and freezer to check if we already have things before I go shopping as well.
 In fact I've been trying to base the meals on ingredients we already have, or trying to think of low cost, healthy meals.

Here I was using up half a red pepper and a glut of eggs to make an omelette.

It was lovely with a jacket potato and some salad

Wednesdays are often baking days for me. I'm at home and I make something oven based for the evening meal (usually jacket potatoes) , and add a cake....or in this case two.
 Here I was baking for a friends bake sale, but I want to try more batch baking and cooking as well. It makes sense time and energy wise.

While we are on the subject of baking I've discovered Aldi's flour is a bargain compared to my usual purchase (45 pence for a 1.5kg bag) .

 I've been shopping at Aldi and my usual Morrisons this month. Trying to make savings is a bit of a frustrating thing sometimes. Change is not always a success. Nobody comments on the change of bread or flour...but try and swap the ketchup...yikes! :0)

I will persevere though. Savings on the grocery bill will help our budget. Lots of small savings will add up. Well that's what I hope.

 I love nuts and seeds as a healthy snack, but they can be expensive. The cheapest place I've found to buy them is Home Bargains. I make up a big container full and then take a small pot to work with me most days.

I'm gradually getting a more frugal mindset. We don't like strong tea, so why did I always use a tea bag in every cup? Much better to make two cups from one bag for hubby and I. I also only boil the amount of water needed...that's been something I've always done.

Also on the subject of drinks, we have found Aldi's Pure squeezed Orange juice , and from concentrate apple juice to be as good as the branded varieties I bought before. In the past we had this with most meals and the boys would raid the fridge for it between times as well.
 As Pure juice now has a bit of a bad reputation for the sugar content I'm sticking to buying less as well. Another saving...and better for their teeth. Water or milk is always available.

In the bathroom I've been looking for ways of saving and reducing too.

 Have you ever noticed that the cheaper (and often the expensive) Bubble Bath comes in a bottle with a wide neck, meaning you glug out more than is needed? I have kept a bottle with a small, squirty nozzle, and I refill that.
 Again the bottle on the left is an Aldi basic version we like.

Are you bored yet? I do hope not :0)

Here's a tip I read online for making bottle of liquid soap last longer. Place a small elastic band ( I used the sort you get on a bunch of Daffodils) around the narrow part of the plunger.
My boys were getting through a large bottle a week, and while I'm glad they wash their hands I didn't like the rate we got through this stuff and the amount of waste plastic it created. Now a bottle lasts two weeks.

My next experiment will to be to refill this bottle with the bubble bath I showed earlier. Apparently it's a popular money saving trick...and there will be less plastic waste created. I know we could go for bar soap...and I may still try that in the future. 

Also in the bathroom I've been carrying on with my usual home hair dying. I just use semi permanent colour to cover my increasing amount of grey hair.  

Of course this is much cheaper than salon prices, but I do need to cover the bathroom in old towels to avoid ruining every surface :0)

One of the great suggestions in the comments of my previous thrifty post was to write down everything I spent for the month. This was such an eye opener and gives me a record of our spending, along with highlighting areas I need to try and improve.

The main non-household essentials expense I had was my car. It had it's yearly service and MOT, so that, along with the fuel costs made it stand out as a big expenditure. As it's 10 years old it also needs some work that I'll have to pay for in March. I really need it to get to work so I can't consider getting rid of it at the moment. It just highlights the fact that we need to start saving for replacement vehicles if we want to avoid expensive loans in the future though.

All the thrifty efforts this month have meant that I have managed to pay off the credit card debt from Christmas. So whilst I haven't managed to start saving yet It's a good feeling to know that's gone. 

I've also gone through all our direct debits and repeat credit card payments and managed to end a couple of those. I feel annoyed with myself for being lazy about this before. One was for product support on a laptop that's been defunct for years. It was hidden in my credit card statement ( or rather I did not study it properly). In the end it was so easy to cancel by just phoning my bank. 

I think the most effective change I have made this month is using cash. Withdrawing a set amount each week and knowing it has to cover the weekly shop and other incidentals really makes you think about what you really need....want some half price Roses on the 15th of February? 

No thank you.

I'm slowly adjusting to the new normal. I always like to find a bargain and it feels good to waste less money and resources. It's just sometimes little purchases do cheer you up, but I know that's short lived and having savings for emergencies and to fund bigger projects will make me happy. I guess I'm just impatient for that to happen.

In March I want to do more decluttering ( spring cleaning and all that) and maybe even try and sell a few things we don't want any more.
I also need to try and get a better deal on our house insurance which is up for renewal at the end of the month.
I'll keep writing meal plans and hopefully spend less on groceries, without sacrificing quality.
I also want to use my bread maker again. Maybe it's not cheaper than bought ( I will try and work out the cost) but it is tasty and has less additives.

The dishwasher will only be used once a day and I'll try not to use the tumble drier now that spring is here...please play ball English weather :0)

Jacquie x


  1. WOW.What a post.Thank you for taking the time and all the work to post the pics and the written.Soooo interesting.Unfortunately we do not have a family,leave it there.I do admire you and will take some of the tips you have posted.Was that Tea Breads you had baked,I love baking and do loads of Delia's Sultana Tea Breads yummy.We have now bought a Bread Maker,my husbands pride and joy he loves it and the bread is lovely.I think we do save by not buying bought.Huggles.x

  2. Great tips and effort! Writing down what you actually spend is such an eye opener.

  3. Such wonderful ideas and it was very thoughtful of you to take the time to share it with all of us. My Hubby and I have taught a class for years called FInancial Peace University, (FPU). One of the main tenants is that you don't use credit and you pay cash for everything. It really makes you think. For example, we haven't had a car loan in well over 15 years. We make a payment to ourselves each month instead and when we need a car replaced we have the money to pay cash for it. We paid our brand new build house off in five years. No. We aren't rich by any stretch of the imagination. We both had regular jobs. Now, since we've been debt free for so long, I'm able to stay home and do volunteer things. All three of our children graduated from college debt free, one with a Masters Degree. Yes, they all worked while they were in school. It taught them a great work ethic and didn't hurt them a bit. Sorry for going on and on. I just love posts like this that teach that being frugal is a great thing. Good for you.

  4. Wow, you have accomplished so much! I love these kinds of posts, they aren't boring at all to me.

    My newest produce tip I just learned recently is to wrap the base of my bunch of celery in aluminum foil. I can't believe how much longer it keeps!I keep celery for daily salads so I only break off one stalk every day or two. I leave the bunch with the base wrapped in foil then just slid back into the plastic sack it came in. Before, it went limp with a week to 10 days. Now it easily stays firm & fresh for a month! Celery is very cheap here so it's not that big a savings but I hated throwing some out every few weeks because it had gone bad.

    I look through my fridge once a week & plan a meal around things that need to be eaten soon. I prevent alot of food waste this way.

    I love the rubber band tip! I'll be trying that one. I refill my soap dispensers as well. It's a big money saver. I've switched to all liquid soaps though, now that I have no kids at home anymore. Bar soaps are definitely cheaper but are so much harder to clean up in the bathtub/shower. They seem to leave more soap scum than liquid.

  5. I enjoy reading your savings posts. We all need to do things like that not only to save money but to save waste. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

  6. Great post with great tips. Thank you x

  7. I always use a breadmaker for our bread, and I never waste any. I slice it up as soon as it's cool and freeze any slices we don't eat straight away. Then I just take out what I need for sandwiches etc. Juice is limited in this house and I mix it with water. The children are used to having it like that and are perfectly happy with it (for now!) Meal planning is a great idea, I really should try and do it more. And thanks for the omlette suggestion, I shall definitely do that one night this week. CJ xx

  8. You've made a great start! And I did find it very interesting. I'm a frugal person and for me it's a game, I'll go so far as to say it's 'fun' to see how far I can make my money go. Don't forget to build some treats in though. Small pleasures here and there make life sweet and won't impede your goal all that much if they are measured and reasonable. One tip on juice beverages. Limiting to one serving per day per person and water after that is a good idea. They are high in sugar, cost and there is no nutritional benefit b/c the body eliminates the excess. For dairy limit to the daily calcium requirement per person,remembering that cheese counts along with milk. Living on a Dime dot com has teen boys and she makes sure they get their required nutrients and fills them up with inexpensive foods like bread, rice, oats which cost less overall. She buys 2 bags of chips per month for 7 people and when they are gone, no more till next month. Although, to accommodate special diets, like gluten free, etc she makes adjusments. She must eat gluten free and instead of buying expensive gluten free breads she replaces it with rice. I've noticed her basic veg staples are potatoes, carrots, cucumbers and cabbage. Cheap here in the states and they last a long time. If you check out her website you'll find a ton of recipes all built around inexpensive foods and easy to prepare. She has a cookbook but most of the recipes are online.

  9. thanks for sharing your money saving tips! I like the rubber band around the liquid soap. I also make body wash from bar soap (check pinterest for ideas)and homemade laundry detergent. Small things add up to saving and there is not a huge sacrifice. thanks again and will look forward to me money saving tips!

  10. Wonderful post. I am trying to do the same as you and be more frugal. Your tips are wonderful.

  11. This is such a GREAT post ! THANKS a bunch (of roses) for those clever tips, and BRAVO for all your savings !
    I've been trying to simplify and save for quite some time now (especially since retirement) and, believe me, there IS a big difference ! I'm so happy and proud of myself, when checking my accounts at the end of the month !
    I must say that 2 GREAT bloggers were so, so helpful to me :
    1) DOWN TO EARTH (Australia) - Rhonda is really a Genius and her blog is a treasure (she also wrote a GREAT book). I would advise anyone to read it from the start - a little each day - you won't regret it...
    2) THE FRUGAL QUEEN (UK) - very helpful, too !

    Thanks again, dear Jaquie ! Keep going (and blogging)


  12. Love this post, doesn't matter where you live we are all trying to be more frugal. We also shop at Aldi here in the USA and luckily, my hubby doesn't mind their ketchup. Since we have been shopping at Aldi, I am always amazed at the amount of money we save on a weekly basis. I am also trying to meal plan, and it has really made a difference. Thanks for sharing your tips too, very useful. Never knew about the rubber band on the soap bottle.

  13. You've certainly made a lot of progress in a relatively short time - great feeling. Being able to resist temptation demands a bit of thought - what is it about the intended purchase that really attracts you? Do you already have something similar you could revamp or make yourself? Could you plan to treat yourself? Eg 5% of any ebay sales is to be spent exclusively on you.
    What did you glean from the Pennypinchers' book? I haven't read my copy yet - will use it for inspiration when I feel my resolve slipping!
    Your elastic band tip for the soap dispenser is a brilliant idea - will definitely use that.
    Thanks for sharing. Vicki

  14. Well done on your thrifty month and finding those hidden charges :-)
    I too found that the best way of saving money was to draw cash for food shopping each week. (actually i draw mine for the month and keep it in a jar and allow myself a set amount each week), it works for me. I've been re-filling bottles for a few years, we don't use soap i think shower gel lats longer. I bought a large bottle of shower gel with a pump (like your hand wash, but bigger) a couple of years ago and i re-fill that, I also take the top completely off the new bottle and upend it into the one i'm refilling and let it all drain out overnight, gets every last bit out. I do the same thing with shampoo and conditioner as i have the same pump action bottles for those too, (home bargains sell huge bottles of shampoo and conditioner in these bottles for £1.99 and then you can just keep re-filling them).
    I hadn't heard of the elastic band trick, i will have to try that :-)

  15. I still keep potatoes in the fridge despite of what is said, it stops them growing and going green. I also keep fruit and vegetables in the friend but like you not bananas and apples and pears.
    Tried changing the ketchup once....never again went back to the "proper" stuff.
    I was always known as the mum who stood bottles on their heads by my son's friends. Open any cupboard door in the kitchen or bathroom and this is days before ketchup came in a bottle which was meant to be standing upside down. There were always bottles delicately balanced upside down to get the very last drop out. Ketchup, brown sauce, washing up liquid and shampoo upside down. It always annoyed the young girls where I worked because I always stood the last dregs in the washing up bottle upside down.

    Julie xxxxx

  16. A good start to a more frugal life. About making the tea and using one bag for two cups. You could get four cups out of a bag if you brewed it in a teapot. We make a pot of tea with one tea bag and get one really big mug of tea each or two smaller mugs each from the pot. The strength is determined by how long you leave the bag in the pot.

  17. Here's another tip: When you cut up vegetables, keep the scraps in a bag in the freezer and then when it's full use them to make vegetable or chicken stock.

    Also, 25 pounds for roses?!?!?! Even at 12.5 that's madness.

  18. I always a use a teapot for making tea and find that one bag is enough just leave it for a few moments.

  19. Hey, Jacquie, loads of good, sensible, tips there. When you're in a hurry (and we all are), it's often easier to take the factory prepared route with food - especially mid-week. We reckon we need to cut back on our portion sizes, too. Sometimes. we'll cook a meal for four with the idea of freezing half of it, but still go back for more! Great post; look forward to the update/progress report!

  20. It is good to read of your thrifty tips and ideas. I am working hard on less food wastage this year. If you are looking for a cheaper tomato ketchup, I think Lidls own brand is so much better than Aldi, so maybe give that one a try with your taste testers! The Lidls own brand cloudy apple juice is delicious as well. I always keep my eyes peeled for Aldi and Lidls offers, each week there are some good fruit and veg offers to be had! Lidls soft brown sugar is a good price too for baking. I made marmalade yesterday and have a bowlful of the scummy stuff I skimmed off. It is basically the marmalade mixed with the sugary bubbles. I cant bear to waste it, so I am going to try and mix it into a marmalade cake tomorrow! I am sure it will taste fine. I look forward to reading how you are continuing to make savings.

  21. Lots of lovely tips and you are making great progress in a short space of time. My mum used to make Pot Luck dinner at the end of the week, which consisted of whatever was left in the fridge/veg rack covered in cheese sauce, breadcrumbs and baked. Surprisingly tasty!

  22. That was a fantastic read Jacquie and so much of what I used to do when had kids at home and still do, call me frugal lol Great tips for everyone out there.

  23. I like the rubber band idea, and to make the hand soap last longer in our household I buy either a refill, or the largest container. Then refill the old bottle about a third full and add water. It can either be a little or very runny, depending on how much water you add, but you're still getting your hands clean.

  24. Thanks for these good tips. Apart from not having a dishwasher and needing to use a tumble dryer, they were great. You've got products in your Aldi I've not seen in mine (I live in the States) but you've got some really good ideas.

  25. You are going for it Jacquie. I must say my new years resolution not to buy any craft materials is a bonus on the bank account. I have been using the saved money to repair everything in our house that has remained broken over the last 9 years! This weeks purchase was a new doorbell - so simple but already I am not jumpy about missing the post and having to drive to the sorting office to pick things up! Jo xx

  26. Great ideas Jacquie, and in a very realistic way too which is how I like my tips and suggestions! You are so right about the direct debits thing, it is easy to let things slip and not realise isn't it, but it all adds up! Hope you can figure out the ketchup thing, we have issues like that here too - and I only have a grown man to contend with!!!

  27. Great ideas. Its so easy to waste stuff without meaning too. I think I'm pretty frugal on the whole (much easier when you live alone! no-one complains at the cobbled together meals!) but this month is particularly tight with the uni rental pinch kicking in on the back of Christmas/New Year excess so I have decided to try to eat as much as I can from the freezer and cupboards - so much stuff there that sits for months. Tonight I'm having slow cooked paprika chicken - had forgotten the chicken was there and it will do 3 meals for me. Result! Hoping I can fund a holiday later in the year for my efforts... xx


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