Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Thrifty Times :: Six Months On

Hello Lovelies,
back in early February I wrote my first post on my attempts at money saving. It's HERE if you want to take a look.

 So many kind people had great advice to share on that post and my subsequent monthly updates. Thank you.

My new year's resolution was to spend less and save more. So, how are things now?

Well I'm still attempting to cut costs on a day to day basis. I've got a better deal on the insurance for our second car this month, by using a price comparison web site.
 Previously we had been with the same company for 22 years!! I can't believe I was so lazy about that.
It turns out that my new company (who provided the cover for half the price) is actually a branch of my old company,  so I didn't even need to send proof of my no claims discount. Not that they admitted that. The letter just said  " we have managed to obtain proof of your no claims." Funny that :0)

I'm far from feeling relaxed and safe with regards to our financial situation though. We have suddenly had a lot of expense this month, then when hubby twisted his ankle it reminded me that as a sub-contracted worker he would get no pay if he couldn't work. That's still decidedly scary in my book.

It's at times like this that I am happy  I have been managing to over pay our mortgage every month for about 3-4 years now.




I've read so many inspiring stories about families being able to pay of their mortgages super early due to the combination of low interest rates and frugal living.

You might think "what's the point?" but interest rates can't stay low indefinitely and we could easily have a change in circumstances that made us worse off.
If I had my time again I would have paid off the maximum the lender would allow each month without penalties, from the very start.

But I guess I should not be too hard on myself. We have a largish family ( including 3 hungry teenagers)  and I have been trying to overpay where I can.
The general advice is that you should have a 3 to 6 month emergency fund before thinking about over-payments.....ummmm.

Summer brings the holiday season and we are lucky enough to afford a week away every year. Usually the balance goes on a credit card which is not paid off till Christmas. Then there are no Christmas savings and that goes on a credit card, which is not paid off  until it's time to pay for the next holiday. Crazy I know, but that's how things have been. However I'm not going to repeat that this year. 

Keeping an eye on day to day spending, along with shopping and cooking as frugally as possible means we can save up to afford these regular big expenses. This year we are going without lots of small treats and days out to fund a special holiday and I feel very fortunate we are in a position to do that. It's not a big splurge to some folk, but foreign holidays, however basic, are a big deal here.

So week in week out I'm trying to make sure we waste nothing. It's good for my purse and the environment. I picked up this book at the library recently and it's full of great suggestions for thrifty cooking and avoiding food waste.


I will be trying this in the autumn.


I'm still using basic Aldi bubble bath as hand wash.

works out at under 30p a 500ml bottle.


I'm eating strange but sometimes surprisingly tasty lunches made up of whatever needs using before it spoils.


I'm batch baking and batch cooking.


One Lemon drizzle cake for now and one to freeze.


Two Lasagnas using cooked chicken, one for now and one to freeze.


I stock up on things that I know we will need when I'm in the shop with the best offers.

Home Bargains in this case.

I'm squeezing the last little bit out of every jar and tube.



Here's a little round up of  the changes I have made so far this year.

1. Day to day shopping done using cash...when it's gone it's gone.
2. Meal planning to avoid food waste or running out of supplies.
3. Writing down all spending to be more aware of where our money goes.
4. Stopped buying "stuff" because it takes my fancy. Online and charity shops were my worst areas for this.
5. Changed insurers for our cars and home insurance. The total save on this is over £700! and it's so easy to do.
6. Shopping at budget supermarkets and ditching brands as much as possible.
7. Changing my bank account to one that gives access to regular savings accounts with the best interest rates. They are still quiet low but I'm determined to build an emergency fund and some interest is better than none.
8. Got a better deal on pay TV by changing supplier.
9. Decided not to upgrade my phone and changed to a sim only contract. This will be the same for our other phones as they come up for renewal.
10. Got rid of our BT landline and use the cable phone line that's included with our internet package. It's hardly used these days anyway.
11. Cancelled product support for a laptop we no longer use.
12. Bought LED light bulbs for the dimmer-switch lights that were still using the old fashioned bulbs.
13. Stopped dancing lessons which were working out rather more than I wanted to pay.
14. No take-away meals and only very occasional meals out for family gatherings.

There's probably more than this but it's all that I can think of at the moment.

Most of all I'm counting my blessings that my frugality can mean fun times and security for my family. I know it's not a choice for all.


Jacquie x

42 comments:

  1. Snap to your number four, in fact I take into charity shops more than buy now. We have found a charity shop that isn't picky, (don't get me started on that) Stopped buying on line unless its the grandchildren's birthdays and we have three birthdays in three weeks so that is easier that way while the grandchildren are young.

    Seeing that stem stem, I always buy cauliflowers with lots of leaves, did you know you can cook them leaves and eat them like greens

    Julie xxxxxxx

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    1. Thanks for the tip Julie. I'm trying to de-clutter here took.
      Jacquie x

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  2. You're doing brilliantly Jacquie, well done you. Great tip re the bubble bath. I am a master at getting the last out of bottles and jars, known for it in fact. I've been freezing the excess fruit here - blueberries, tayberries and cherries - for use in the winter. Already have plenty of rhubarb tucked away. If you have room in your freezer, visiting the supermarket on Sunday afternoon can be good, you can buy up milk and cream for example when it's cheap and freeze it. The cream is still good for cooking with when it's defrosted - for quiches and rice puddings. Great savings on the insurance, I ought to look at our home insurance. Keep up the good work! CJ xx

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    1. Thanks CJ. Some great tips here. I'm keen to grow more soft fruit next year.
      My little apple tree has about 20 lovely bramleys getting bigger by the day. So exciting.
      Jacquie xxx

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  3. Well done on the money saving, I love to read how other people manage to cut their spending, we all live differently and what suits one family might not suit another, but there are always tips and tricks to pick up and try.
    You have reminded me that I must get in touch with Virgin about our internet and phone, I do call them once a year and ask if they can give us a better price, surprisingly not many people ask, but if you don't ask you don't get and they are usually pretty good at giving you a better deal or money off your current package. I'm still using cash for food shopping too, it's amazing how you can do without things if you have to hand over cash, lol

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    1. Thanks Maggie. I love how using cash simplifies my bank statements too. It's easy to see there the money is going without tons of little purchases to sift through.

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  4. Great tips, these are the things I do: I only use cash or my debit card (never owned a credit card and at 60 not likely too either) during term time I catch the train twice per week for Adult Ed during holidays I put the train fare in a piggy bank.
    I use MySupermarket to compare prices and any savings I make get put away, also if an item is on sale/reduced then if I would have paid full price I save the difference. Don't buy drinks/lunches take your own and the money soon mounts up. When a new currency comes out I save it for as long as possible, with new £5 I managed a month before I was getting too many in my change. The £2 coin when it came out a friend's 3 yr old said "ooooh a 2 million" you can't spend 2 million so I saved it and have continued to do this. When I get £200 I pay it into my savings account. I over payed on my gas/electricity bill and in 6 months I could afford a new computer with the over payment.
    I never buy cards I make my own, cheaper but best of all is the reaction when someone gets a card just for them. Buy calendars in Feb when they are incredibly cheap then use the pictures to make cards, decorate empty tins for storage plus lots of other crafty things. Just bought huge canvas tote bags for half price at £1.50 I will personalise them as Christmas prezzies.
    Hope these tips help.
    Lucy in Kent

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    1. They sound like wonderful gifts Lucy. Thank you for all the great saving tips. I must check out my supermarket.

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  5. Hi Jacquie, I think you're doing brilliantly and it is these little things which make such a difference. I sympathise so much regarding your husband and loss of earnings-this is when those changes will have the greatest benefit. The mortgage thing is so important. We have been lucky enough to be fairly well off (compared to lots, but by no means rich!) by not overspending, saving for things and living in a modest house. We did overpay the mortgage by carrying on with set payments instead of dropping down when interest rates went low and saved as much as we could. Then of course, the inevitable happened and my husband was made redundant but we managed to scrape the savings together and pay off the rest of the mortgage so that wouldn't be a worry. It was the best thing we've ever done as it took 5 years before he found a suitable permanent position. Although he worked in some good jobs in that time they were only ever contracts, so there were inevitable worries and low periods but at least we knew we wouldn't lose the house, the boys were shielded from the worst of it, and my part time salary paid the bills and allowed life to continue fairly normally. Also I was used to being frugal so could still make cuts! We've been out of that awful situation for a couple of years now but it can still make me very emotional as I can too easily see what life may have been and can truly empathise with those who can't make provision in the same way.

    I do hope I haven't alarmed you, just wanted to commend you on having forethought and doing the right thing. Also to say how much I enjoy your blog which I've read for a good few years and I'm now enjoying your posts on IG. Thanks so much for your lovely crochet patterns and images.

    Keep up the good work

    Debi x

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    1. Oh thank you for the support and advice Debi. I'm glad things have worked out well for you. As you say being careful with money is very important when you have a family to think of.

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  6. Yes to paying off your mortgage early by making extra payments!! My husband never believed in relying on my salary for normal monthly expenditures when I was working, so anything I made went toward the house or any unexpected big expenses. We managed to build a house and pay it off in six years by following that idea. Mind you, I never made more than minimum-wage when I was working. Every little bit extra that you can pay adds up quickly when you don't have to add interest to it. Have you heard of Dave Ramsey here in the States? Hubby and I have taught his financial class for years and he teaches many of these things. Well done with all of these wonderful frugal tips. As we begin preparing for retirement, I need to start following more of them. I admit, I have gotten lax about some of these things since the children moved out and it's just Hubby and I.
    Blessings,
    Betsy

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    1. Thank you for your interesting comments Betsy. I think your husband is a very wise man. I'm hoping once the mortgage is paid off we can save my part-time wage....or most of it.

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  7. You're doing really well Jacquie, and the savings soon add up.
    Those cakes look delicious. X

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  8. Hi Jacquie
    I go shopping for gifts,clothes for following year,after Easter,Christmas and after every season when prices are 50% off.
    I have cards for Christmas,I spend £1,25 for 5 boxes.We need for school.
    In Cameron I find school supplies ,I spend less than last year.Not easy with one teenager(expensive uniform,PE equipment) and two in primary school.My little one will go to nursery on September 2018.
    I appreciate your post,helps me so much! Thank you xx
    Mihaela

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    1. Thank you Milhaela.
      It sounds like you are doing a great job. I think it's good to share this as it inspires to to keep going.

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    2. Yes Jacquie,
      I need to write more about my meals planing;shops where I find good prices etc.Thank you again,so happy to find your post/blog.

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  9. As I read your post I had a Little déjà-vú. We had a very hard financial crisis a few years ago and I worked hard every day to avoid every waste of money and thought twice a time at each time in a shop. I always looked in the leaflets for the best prices of the goods and when they had a really cheap special price, I bought more of them. I also used every vegetable and fruit which I can get out of the garden. My family (I have also three Teenagers) and I get happy with little things. Now, I'm proud of us because we have managed the situation and our children are grown to very reasonable persons (with money). I'm still very careful with money and I consider our holidays exactly. I look very long for a good deal and I'm sure, we don't have less fun or that we have to quit on something. We spend a lot of time together and I always try to make something Special with/for my family. Good luck for your finance!

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    1. Thank you for sharing your story. It adds so much to the post to hear how others cope too.
      Here's to happy (frugal) holidays and simple family fun.

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  10. Cheering you on from over here in my 2017 stash diet year. I have not bought yarn or fabric(except one piece for a specific project) all year and it has been fun using up all my crafty bits and pieces in the cupboard, Jo xx

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    1. You always make wonderful things Jo and are very inspiring.
      Thank you

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  11. Go you and wonderful you can share all the good hints here.....I live by many and we have quite a few home loans....investments and has been working very well for us. I love crazy meals with whatever is in the fridge/freezer/cupboard. Our kids are all over 30 and quite a few grandies and love to share with them good hintsxo

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    1. Sounds perfect Wendy.
      Thank you.

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  12. Hi Jacquie
    I love your thrifty posts and wish you luck with your budgeting. I particularly empathise with your weakness for charity shops; after all (I tell myself) I'm not shopping, I'm giving to charity! I also enjoy your walking posts. Please keep them all coming.
    Take care
    Jane

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    1. Thanks Jane. I'm trying to De-clutter so I'm doing my bit for charity by donating :0)

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  13. Glad it is going well for you! It shows that it is worth making small changes doesn't it.

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    1. Yes it really is Amy. Lots of small changes add up.
      Have a great weekend.

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  14. You made changes and are being consistent in sticking with them. It is paying off and it will continue to do so. Believe me, it works. Accumulating wealth is easy for those with huge incomes. For those of us who have smaller incomes it takes longer. BUT it works the same; and over time the savings can become significant. AND knowing you are doing all that you are able to do is comforting; b/c should the time come and you find yourself in want you'll know it is out of your hands, that you did your best and you won't beat yourself up thinking 'what if' or 'why didn't I (fill in the blank)". I grew up hearing the saying 'God helps those who help themselves'. And he does. And when you've done what you can, he is still there, your sun and your shield, his everlasting arms lifting you up. Keep up the good work. You are winning. Challenge yourself to find ways to reward yourself that don't cost money. They are there and free for the taking. Seek and ye shall find.

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    1. Thanks Dina.
      Time out in the countryside or at home with the family are my favourite things. Both free.
      I'm lucky.

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  15. I think it is very smart to make these changes. I think everyone should. I try the best I can to live as frugally as possible. Thanks for sharing!! Blessings!

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    1. Thank you Angela. Living below your means does have great rewards and money saved can go towards fun stuff as well as more mundane. It gives you choices.
      Here's to frugality.

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  16. Bravo! Well done you! Just being mindful leads to changes in spending habits I find. One tip that has really helped us through the years,a well stocked pantry, it allows you the choice to (only) buy food when it's on sale, especially helpful with kids. I even buy most of my craft supplies on sale or with a store coupon. lol I ask myself before buying things, is this a want or a need, very simple but it really helps. We've been living this way for so long it's second nature mostly, some things are easier than others of course. Good luck with your saving journey!

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    1. The want or need advice is brilliant. I'm learning that having control of our finances makes me happier than buying stuff. Saving is a fun challenge.
      Thank you for the pantry advice. I really wish I had more space to store stuff.

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  17. Uhm...found this post by following a link..... true, I do not know your personal circumstance but sadly am not impressed by your budgeting ideas...the use of a credit card for one, what is the first thing debt advisers tell you to do? cut up the credit card. Do you really need two cars?

    I speak from years of experience as a single Mother raising three teenagers...now grown up with families of their own.

    I wish you well on your journey, it will take a while though

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    1. Hello Joy.
      I think you miss read my post. This year I've stopped using a credit card. I agree that they are best avoided, except for amounts you can afford to pay off every month so you don't pay any interest.

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  18. I need to do this too! We spend sooooo much money eating out! It's really dumb. I think you are doing a great job!

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    1. Thank you Ann. Cheering you on with your money saving goals.

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  19. Jacquie, I read through all the comments and no one mentioned my favorite tip. I call the companies that make my favorite products for 3 reasons. I call to complain (nicely), compliment them or just to ask for coupons for their products. When I discovered that I could cook frozen turkey burgers in my crockpot (not listed as a method to use on the box), I called Butterball to share my joy and they sent me a $5 coupon! It's a simple thing to do. The companies love hearing from consumers. Saving money is a fun challenge.
    God bless, Susan

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    1. It is great to regard it as a fun challenge Susan. Thank you for the tip.

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  20. We use restaurant coupons sometimes. We can get two meals for the price of one and drink water. That saves money but we have to plan it. No spur of the moment decisions or we spend too much.

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  21. You probably already know this but in case you don't, supermarket own brand toothpaste is reckoned by Which to be as good as the expensive brands. Apparently the crucial thing is they should have round about 1450 parts per million of fluoride. I personally didn't know this and usually buy Oral B stuff, so I though I'd pass this on just in case it helps anyone else save a little. I am very impressed at your recent savings Jacquie! You have given me some ideas:)

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  22. A site you might want to check out, www.frugalwoods.com. Mrs. Frugalwoods and her husband have worked wonders going the frugal route without sacrificing quality in time, food or home. Her blog is a delight to read full of smart and savy tips. I highly recommend it.

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  23. Well done Jacqui. i have managed to conquer my mild shopping addiction, which would manifest itself as 'I must buy something!' this was stuff like magazines and books (I rarely buy these now but use the library obsessively instead, as I used to when our children were small and money was tight). I use lidl and aldi and buy few brands anymore. I have an app on my phone for my buses, i pay 50 pounds a month for unlimited usage of my local buses. I used to use taxis a lot, so this has saved hundreds of pounds but I am sure that being aware of where you spend your money is the most important factor in saving money!

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