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Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Back to the budget

December is the time of year when money can  run through your fingers.  Every advert on TV eludes to the way we should be spending Christmas.  This year Ben Miller and Ruth Jones have appeared in a series of adverts for the supermarket TESC*,  the last two being themed around Christmas. One of the adverts shows a table so laden with food it would feed a small town for a week! I have friends that buy into all this Christmas hype and a small part of me used to but not anymore.  Christmas lasts between 2-3 days in our house depending on when we can all be together as a family.



The meals I serve are based on what is available and how hungry we are. I always ask how hungry everyone is because of all the snack stuff we have around us at Christmas. there's nothing worse than serving up s meal and everyone have stuffed themselves with chocolates and such like. I can't abide  waste.  When Christmas lunch is at our house we have Turkey and all the trimmings. Any leftovers such as the cold meats and stuffing are brought out in the evening as part of a small buffet  as we have found we eat less and less each year. The following day the turkey carcass is stripped bare and boiled to make a delicious stock some of which is frozen. Then into the pot goes any leftover vegetables sprouts, roast potatoes carrots, parsnips, peas etc and some turkey.  Any turkey I believe  cannot be used  up quickly will be frozen to be used another day. The turkey 'jollop' as its affectionately known in our house is left to simmer,  thickened slightly and served with freshly baked crusty bread and butter on boxing day. A real NO WASTE recipe that's loved by all my family.  Tea time may be cheese and crackers, followed by any  dessert we have left. Another meal may be a gammon cooked with mash potato and cauliflower cheese.
My shopping since the  22nd November was£63.09.  The additional shopping on Monday/Tuesday was:Coop £2.59 (thanks to yellow sticker goods), Morrisons 58p ( coupon used), Asda £6.04.  Home Bargains £9.96 TOTAL £82.26.

Yoghurts 20p, Swede 39p Peanuts £2

Fish for hubby, new toothbrush hot chocolate for me!

The bananas cost 18p (53p -35p coupon)


I managed to get some yellow sticker food from Asda, £2 cheese for 72p, £2 cooked chicken legs for £1.32.  I going to make a chicken, leek and potato stew tomorrow using the soup mix and serve with homemade bread. The pack contained 2 cabbages for 50p, brilliant value.  I also got a pack of embroidery cottons for £2.50 cheaper than the haberdashery shop. The box of Orange Matchmakers were hidden straight away and never made their way onto the photograph. I have £17.74 left for milk, bread and vegetables over the next 15 days.  I'll be donning my miners helmet and digging down into the freezer again at the end of the week to provide more meals and make more space. Hopefully by my next pension pay day 22nd I will have the space to make use of any bargains I can pick up on Christmas Eve or before. Have you reduced your spending over the years? What do you make with the leftovers?

Crafting update tomorrow. Bye for now. Tx


Tuesday, 6 December 2016

CRAFTING

My afternoons and evenings over the last week have been spent  sewing.  Last Christmas I saw lots of beautiful  crafting makes on blogland and wished that I knew how to do them.  I've always made cards and done a little sewing, knitting here and there but I would lose impetus because of having to go to work.  Well now I have no excuse for not finishing things.....crumbs what have I said!
 
I've never worked with felt before except when I was about 5 at infant school.   So I used YouTube to check out various makes. I have a secondhand Big Shot Die Cutter that I use for card making which I was also aware it could be used for cutting material.  I actually purchased the felt in the spring when prices dropped, they always hike  up the price in the 'craft making' run up to Christmas.  I used my heart die to cut the felt to make into tree decorations. 
 
One  blanket stitch YouTube demonstration later and I was away but it didn't look right, then I realised you had to use embroidery cotton and split the strands into various thicknesses.  There must be an easy way of splitting the threads I just haven't found it yet!  The stuffing is from an old bed pillow I kept after it went lumpy.  I snowflakes were sewn on free hand and I'm really pleased with them.  They're certainly getting better the more I do.  I' going to do some white felt ones with red stitching.
 
 
Last year Sue over at 'Our Quiet Life in Suffolk' posted about a Milk Bottle top Christmas tree after she went to a display 'somewhere' ?  I Googled the idea and found a demonstration on good old YouTube and I've made a start. I want to add lights instead of buttons in the spaces and I'll show you the finished article when complete. 
Cut circles, fill top with wadding and gather around.
 
Lights purchased for 99p last year

 
Hubby cut the felt circles and he was a little mean I will definitely make them bigger next time.  I cut the red ones and they're far better.  The felt does slacken a bit so the quicker you put everything together the better.  I'm going to try out some material ones so I can colour coordinate them as gifts for friends if possible.  Note to self: Must start saving more milk bottle tops. I also want to make a rag wreath, another demonstration I looked at on YouTube that is very simple yet so effective. Anyway that's what I've been up to, what about you?
 
Back tomorrow with Budget update after my shopping trip yesterday.








 

Monday, 5 December 2016

Where does the time go?

Its a week since I posted but I can honestly say it feels like a couple of days.  When people who knew I was about to retire remarked ' Ahh, you'll wonder how you ever had time to work' I would smile graciously and say 'really' in surprise. Well its true, I don't know how I ever found time to work 'full time'  too.......crumbs! Each day seems to wiz by and I crawl into bed planning to get all the things I didn't manage that day placed on a mental list for the next.

THE BUDGET

As many of you know the one area of my budget I have made the most savings in the last 24 months is the Food budget.  I've shopped around, compared prices, used coupons wisely, stockpiled and grown our own on a far bigger scale than ever before.   So as previously posted  I have settled on £1270 for the year ahead.  That's a £100 a month for food and £70 extra for special occasions.  I had previously allotted £150 a month but I was regularly putting £50 from this into a Christmas/birthday (£600) fund for presents. I'll be putting £35 a month  in the coop as before and  I'll use  the 2 free 'Council Tax'   months to bolster the amount and get the fund  off to a flying start with £270.

Spending since Pension Payment day  22nd November  totals: Sainsbury's £31.89, Lidl £25.60 & £3.60 (can't find receipt) and Morrisons £7.80-£5.80 Coupons etc =£2.00  TOTAL £63.09. Some of this budget went on chocolate, Champagne and Prosecco for  up and coming birthday presents. There was also some Christmas nibbles and store cupboard Christmas bits. Later today I'm walking the couple of miles down to Morrisons for bread and Home Bargains to pick up some dishwasher tablets and have a general look around for any Christmas bargains. We are still living out of the freezer in order to make room for the Christmas reductions/yellow stickers I'm hoping to pick up Christmas Eve! Today I got out a large tub of vegetable soup and a tub of fruit and berries to which I've added a tin of mandarins in juice and an apple making a large bowl of fruit salad which will be served with yoghurt. There is also a tub of chilli that can be served tomorrow with rice and salad. The leftover chicken curry that we   made Saturday for our guests yesterday,  will have some baked beans added to make it go further and served on a jacket potato and homemade coleslaw later today. The two large 'puks' of cooked apple can defrost slowly, it may get added to some mixed fruit, cinnamon  and stewed, ready to be served with custard later this week.
Fruit Salad served with yoghurt

Apple defrosting ready to have mixed fruit and  cinnamon added.
Served with hot custard. Delish.

 
Oh the joys of being 60,  you get that lovely envelope from the NHS  for the Bowel Cancer Screening Test. But despite the 'toilet humour' that surrounds this sort of thing it saves lives.   Our 'Best Man' was 58 when he correctly spotted differences in his 'toilet' routine and went to the Doctors where bowel cancer was diagnosed. He underwent surgery and  Chemo, he  visited us yesterday with his partner and is still very much around to tell the tale.


I'll be back tomorrow with a further update on what I've been up to and photos of the crafting and decorating that has taken place. Bye for now. Tx

P.S. LOVING THIS SUNSHINE !!!!! Long may it continue.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Hello There!

I could say I haven't posted since the 15th because I've been so busy but that wouldn't be entirely true. I haven't posted for a number of reasons firstly I went away to stay with a friend on Tyneside for six days, we were joined by another 4 friends who stayed various lengths of time. A great time was had by all. The weather was very kind to us and we walked for miles everyday either along the beautiful coastline of Tyneside,  Cullercoats and Whitley Bay or around the magnificent shops of Newcastle. 
 
View from Rily's Fish shack, they were just starting to set up the  little fires
and deckchairs on the beach for people to sit next to. 
 
Fell in love with Mr 'scrap' Crab on the counter of Rily's Fish Shack.
 
Coastline Walk
 
The great North Snow Dogs, families can embark on a trail across
the NE to locate all of the St Oswalds Hospice Dogs. 
The transport links in and around Newcastle are brilliant with the choice of travelling by Metro or bus, the bus being slightly cheaper.  I remember asking my friend when I visited last year why they had so many Morrison's supermarkets in the vacinity, she laughed and explained that the signs I was seeing were in fact for the Metro, it uses  the same font. Look at the top of the right hand corner of the Metro ticket!
Can you see what I mean about the M font? All the ticket inspectors throughout my journey north commented on the size of the font used on my rail ticket.  I could have been travelling anywhere at any time because none of them could read it or be bothered to read it, they just scribbled on it.
 
We went into Newcastle shopping on two occasions and that was more than enough for me.  How some find this enjoyable beats me! I needed a coat something I consider and investment as I don't buy one every year.  The last coat was one from Monsoon 4.5 years ago. Debenhams had an offer on and I managed to pick up a Precis (petite) one for £149 - 30% = £104.30 which may seem dear but it fits perfectly because they're made for people who are 5ft 3in  or less. I don't have to have the arms altered and the waste is in the right place. I also bought a bomber style cardigan from Fenwicks which is lovely and thick with a splash of colour, great for jumping in the car when a full coat isn't   needed. I did a few bits of Christmas shopping but I couldn't find the boots I was after but I'm still on the look out.
 
I arrived home with new vim and vigour starting by striping all the cupboards of their contents and checking it before putting it  back into some kind of logical order. Everything not required has made its way to the local hospice shop a much disserving cause. YES I could have sold some of it but I just wanted it gone. The Christmas box was unpacked and the presents allocated and wrapped so I could write a list of the gaps I needed to fill.  I found the whole process very cathartic and uplifting. But the high was short lived and the winter blues hit with a bang.  I wrote about my belief in the SAD syndrome last year.  I suppose my farcical  60th  birthday has come back to haunt me a bit.  Christmas seems to be speeding its way towards us and although I'm in control of everything I want to stop the train and get off. Do you feel like that?
Borrowed from the Internet. He looks like I feel.  Ha Ha.

Batch cooking has been my saving grace as we've lived out of the freezer this last week, cooking has been the last thing on my mind. I'm still working my way down the freezer and there's lots more to use up before I need to consider a serious shop.  I'll need fresh fruit, vegetables, bread and milk tomorrow. More coupons have arrived for Sainsbury's(£4.50 off £30 & £6 off £30)  as usual I'll work out when and if they're worth spending. 
 
I've decided to budget monthly but in advance.  So £1270 was withdrawn from my savings pot and put in the current account. In advance means I can go after the offers in bulk and put money aside for Christmas/Birthdays next year. 

Must dash back soon.  Tx

.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

UNDECIDED WHAT TO DO!

Sorry for the lack of posts last week and this week but I'm in Tyneside with friends and there hasn't been a second to spare until now. I'll tell you all about my getaway later this week.  
 I'm still undecided how to withdraw my pension. Do I put the  whole amount into an account from my savings pot then draw down, then top up the savings pot when I receive my pension each month. Relying on my monthly income will bring  complications tax wise because of  leaving work 7 months into a financial year (tax is calculated for the year) and I probably won't get a rebate until next year.  HMRC have written to me but its just like a P45 incase I want to claim jobseekers allowance or take up employment. 😞
 
Weekly update: The freezer is still too full and I need to use up far more to make space for any Christmas bargains. The price of meat is very competitive at Christmas and I'm actually considering holding my nerve until Christmas Eve and see what reductions turn up.  I not sure how many there will be around the table this Christmas but that doesn't phase me anymore, its being together that matters.  November should be a low-ish spend month but there will be a few Christmas bits put in the trolley.  I had to pop to Asda at the weekend, it was a bit of a random shop as I needed deicer, teabags, cooking salt and other bits with family visiting. The shop came to: £29.04.  I've prepared a list for shopping at Sainsbury's.
Sainsbury's shopping list
Sunday: Hubby ran out of sweeteners  so to get our daily exercise in we walked the 2.5 miles to Morrison's, arriving just after 3:30.  All the yellow stickers reductions had gone from the main cabinet but they were just reducing the chicken and pies further.  Hubby got 2 minced  and onion pies for 9p and I got 5 plump chicken thighs for £1.45, which I immediately stripped the meat and boiled the bones ready to make a chunky stew.  Just right for this cold snap. In all the excitement of getting a bargain we forgot the sweeteners.  ;0(

 
I had coupons for Flora Activ and Marmite so I've checked Mysupermarket and they are both on offer in Asda which means the coupon is an extra saving, I  picked  them up on Wednesday when I went to the bank. Oh and I remembered the sweeteners!


 

So Totals: Asda    £29.04  Asda £5.41 Lidl £2.55 B&M £4.27 Sainsbury's £25.95
Morrisons £1.45
TOTAL: £68.67 I've flitted about because there was bargains everywhere and I was out walking and able to carry bits home.  We are well stocked up and will probably get by with milk, bread and fresh fruit/veg for the rest of the month.....unless I see something I can't resist.

Headed off to Tyneside for 6 days to see my friend and we will be joined by 4 others while there.  Shopping has been on the agenda and some of the belated birthday money I received has been put to good. use.  A new coat and boots a must as I haven't had one in 5 years! 

Bye for now. Tx.

 

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

SAVING ON BIRTHDAYS AND CHRISTMAS

Many thanks for all the comments on the recent 'money saving' posts.  You probably know many of them already but it gives newbies  the opportunity to contribute  inspiring new  'money saving' ways. 

Lets face it we all know when family/friends birthdays are, just as we know when Christmas is going to fall each year......so there shouldn't be any surprises. PLAN, PLAN and PLAN again.

I start saving for Christmas early and aim to have my Christmas money saved by the end of October  or Mid November at the latest so that I can start making use of any early bargains. I also start each year with a small table of birthdays, date, name, age, Birthday Present, Christmas Present and a spare column for notes. The age is important so I'm aware of clothes sizes and special birthdays like 18th or 40th etc.  I  take a photo of the list so its on my phone, that way I can consult it when I'm out shopping and update it once a present is bought (taking a new phot of the updated list)  There are optimum times to purchase gifts for example end of season sales, summer into winter.  Also just before Christmas (Christmas Eve) and straight after.  Within the extended family (nieces nephews) we have spend limits £10 for birthday and £5 for Christmas, so if you get a £10 present for £7.50 so be it.


Date

Name

Age

Card

Birthday Present

Christmas Present


02.02.2016

James

8

Yes

Model Car

Chocs £5


09.03.2016

Kelly

12

Yes
       Toiletries
Chocs £5


13.04.2016

Justin

3

Yes

Jumper / Sweeties

Model Car / Voucher


15-04-2016

Jane

59

Yes

Bird Box

Yankee Candle

 























































Check major stores websites for clearance lines throughout the year. Also remember many of them start reducing stock online 2-3 days before Christmas  because they can't deliver in time for Christmas. Boots the Chemist slash prices pre Christmas and this year their various money saving vouchers have a use by date of 03/01/2017 fantastic. Opt to pick up in store saving on delivery. I very rarely pay full price for any gifts I purchase. Always check the internet for discount codes before you agree to 'check out' your basket.  
 
 
Half price gifts purchased.
Buy your Christmas cards and wrapping paper  once reduced after Christmas. I invariably choose Christmas paper that has a geometric pattern so it can double up as Birthday wrap.  Christmas cards received are  cannibalised to make my own greetings cards and gift tags for the following year. 
 
Half price wrapping paper purchased after Christmas.

Some of the cards I made just after Christmas last year
 
Hubby and I make lots of different pickles, jams and marmalade, they are used in small hampers along with flavoured alcohol like toffee vodka and miniature  Christmas cakes  to provide much loved presents for older family members and friends. Homemade/handmade gifts are always so well received and there's so many ideas out there on Pinterest and YouTube.   I love Pinterest its a huge vault of inspiration.
Dundee cake made for 2
Christmas time is the best time to stockpile food as fierce competition between the supermarkets means lower prices. We buy our fresh salmon and lamb  at Christmas its the cheapest time. If you can resist temptation then buy the  tubs of chocolates seen everywhere in the supermarkets in October when they first appear. The prices gradually rise in November and December.  THE TUBS ARE DEFINITELY GETTING SMALLER.

I hope this has been helpful. What do you do to save money at Christmas?  Back soon. Tx
 

Monday, 7 November 2016

STOCKPILING TO SAVE MONEY

SAVING MONEY PART 2

Stockpiling is one of the ways I have saved the most money. We eat lots of fruit and vegetables so I had to find ways of lowering the cost. Growing my own was an option and I've been amazed with the results, however I can't possibly grow everything we need. So each week I check out what is on offer in the supermarket and buy extra. Lots of vegetables will keep for quite a while if stored correctly.
29p onions hanging up in the workshop.
I bought 4 butternut squash on offer at 59p at least 4 weeks ago, I since used one and they'll remain in the outside workshop until I need them. They keep for ages that's why they were grown by the pioneers.

I picked the biggest as we love butternut squash. Ha ha.

I've  just used the last of three kilos of  carrots that were bought weeks  ago for 29p and the second pack of parsnips but you must take them out of the plastic bags. If you have the time and/or indeed the inclination you could peel, blanch and freeze the produce yourself. I have a berry box in the freezer.  Any discounted cheap berries are open frozen and placed in this large box to be used in fruit salads or porridge in the depths of winter when that sort of fruit is expensive.

Simplify where possible.  I don't by lots of different cleaners and toiletries anymore. I buy bleach, CIF, white vinegar, beeswax polish and shampoo. Once Christmas toiletries are used up soap dispensers are filled with shampoo. Shampoo is used as shampoo, hand soap and shower gel. 

Stockpiling items that  I've found on offer using Mysupermarket. I recently bought multiples of Gold Blend and Azera coffee for £3.50 and £2.50 respectively thanks to an offer at Sainsbury's and a money off coupon saving me £10.  That's £10 I could spend on something else. 

They say information is power and it is.  Nearly all the supermarkets have websites although I prefer to use Mysupermarket where you can find their weekly offers.   Lidl have online leaflets that you can browse to see upcoming offers. You don't need to shop blind. Make a list and stick to it.

These are available online to browse so plan ahead.
I've reduced our gas and electric consumption over the last two years but I kept the payments the same. Nothing is left on standby/display mode apart from Sky and the cooker.  They are switched off at the socket straight after use. Weather forecasts are the most accurate they've ever been so the washing machine goes on when I know the clothes can be  dried on the line. The tumble drier gets used with caution and only when the weather is continually inclement. The oven is never used to cook one single item it has to be used to capacity. I use a pressure cooker and slow cooker were possible.  We do not go without heating, I can't stand being cold but the thermostat has been switched down and foil insulation has been placed behind the radiators to reflect the heat into the room. I have a blanket on the sofa that I use most nights and fluffy socks, as I find if my feet are warm, I am warm.
 
Water consumption has been reduced but not as much as I would have liked. The 3 large water butts ran out relatively quickly, so this winter I am on a mission to save even more rain water.  Hubby was given a huge barrel and I mean huge, it will be filled to use on the garden next year. Look on your water suppliers website for the free water saving gadgets.  I got a shower head, water gel and 'save a flush' bags which replaced the half litre cola bottles I placed in the cisterns.  
 
Try your Water suppliers website.

Haggle with your suppliers, its easier over the phone, less embarrassment if you don't like this sort of thing.  Sky, BT and my home insurance supplier all dropped the price without compromise when I threatened to move my business elsewhere. BE PREPARED TO VOTE WITH YOUR FEET IF YOU DONT GET WHAT YOU WANT. If you don't ask you won't get. Use comparison sites to check if you have the best deal use the information against your present supplier. Tell them where you can get a better deal and ask for a price match.
 
Are you good at haggling, have you managed to get a new deal? Do you have money saving tips? Tomorrow I'll be looking at  money saving ways when faced with Birthdays and Christmas. Bye for now. Tx