Frugal Living 2019: Frugal February #1

Frugal Living 2019: Frugal February #1

For those just catching up, I posted last month about our Frugal Living 2019 challenge. Our first blog post laid out what we were hoping to achieve, how, why and what changes we’d already made. Have we kept it up and enjoyed a frugal February?

Frugal February

If you’ve read last month’s post you’ll have seen that we’d used a fab mobile mechanic to fix the car. Fast forward a month and the fixed car is no more. We bought a new one. Not really what you’d consider the most frugal choice at face value, however, something else fell off her, the MOT was due (it was going to be a big one, i.e. hundreds to get right) and we were fed up of the unreliability of the old girl. She had to go. We part-ex’d her and bought….. the Gingermobile (a bright orange Peugeot). Short term, a big spend, long term, cheaper to run, more reliable, easier to park ( we live in a Victorian terrace where everyone keeps a shoe horn and some goose grease in their car so they can park on a night) and the right choice. 

new car

We are Moving House

Bear with me. How is moving house a frugal choice? Short term is most certainly isn’t, although it depends on how you look at it. First of all… Happy New Home to us! We move in April. We are moving to the most glorious 1930’s bungalow, just a few streets away from where we are now and the benefits are many. There’s a gorgeous garden, a huge workshop for Roy, off-road parking, the house is character packed and perfect for our needs and we just aren’t happy where we are. We’re overlooked, parking is a nightmare, the traffic (considering this is a cul de sac!) is phenomenal and it just isn’t working for us. 

Moving-wise, we’re looking to do it on a shoestring, because we’re trying to save, not spend. We’ve quotes coming in from movers and van and man set-ups, and decluttering is ongoing! We’ll be donating a fair few items to a fab local social enterprise business called the Clockworks (I am on their steering group and have to say, the work they are doing is great) and selling other bits. I’ll write up a frugal moving post nearer the time.

Overall though, we are thrilled to be moving and besides, surely heating a bungalow should be cheaper than heating a breezy 3-floor terrace house? Right?

new house, frugal february

Using Cash

A top frugal February tip for you: Taking cash out for grocery spends has proven to be a winner. It turns out that you are much less likely to spend if you have to hand cash over rather than flash your contactless card at the till. Grocery shopping has long-since been a bone of contention when it comes to our budget because we seem to overspend every time. In the four weeks since we started this challenge I stayed 100% on budget for 2 weeks, went slightly over on the third week and the fourth, we don’t need to speak of again. A good start, better than previous months definitely but I need to find a way to stay accountable and stick with the cash envelope system. 

Bulb Energy Referral

After posting about Bulb last month, someone used my referral to sign up with them and we have both received £50 credit on our gas and electricity account. To say I’m pleased is an understatement, especially as that means another person choosing 100% renewable electricity and 10% renewable gas. They are a lovely company to deal with and have saved me a fortune over the past 18 months. They are worth a look at if you aren’t happy with your current energy provider. My referral is: http://bit.ly/nickibulbreferral

A Frugal-ish Day Out

We’ve now got a Family and Friends Railcard. The cost is £30 a year although I cashed in some Tesco vouchers to make it £15 for the year. It allowed us to travel from Thirsk to York, four of us, for £12.80 return. It has almost paid for itself already. Have a look on the Railcard website at this railcard and others to see how you can save. 

We took the train to York and enjoyed a few fabulous hours at the National Railway Museum, a very short walk from York train station. There is no entrance fee at the NRM and there is so much for us all to see and do. We then walked into York, had some lunch, enjoy a little shopping (necessary purchases only, a bath bomb for Taylor etc) and then came home, tired but having had a fabulous and fairly frugal day out. If you haven’t been to the National Railway Museum they are worth looking up.

family

Frugal February: The Plan

We’re now halfway through February. There are no big spends planned, the food budget is back under control and we’re plodding along nicely. We’ve swapped out shampoo for a shampoo bar (cheaper and better for the environment) and are trialling a conditioner bar. These we’ll feedback on later. The plan for February is to continue with the successful frugal changes we’ve made so far and to:

  • Use Freecycle to source packing boxes/materials for free.
  • Research ways to cut the cost of our upcoming house move.
  • Be more mindful of our gas and electricity usage.
  • Enjoy more frugal family days out (Check out the Forestry Commission walks for a cheap and healthy fun day).
  • Declutter and sell on or donate anything we no longer need.

I’ll be back with an update in a couple of weeks.

 

New Year Finances: Top Tips

New Year Finances: Top Tips

Hands up if at the beginning of the year you sit down and reassess what I like to call the New Year finances? Me too, although I do a monthly budget based on real-life happenings i.e. upcoming events and a quarterly bill review too. Keeping on top of your bills, checking your standing orders and direct debits and making sure that you know exactly what is coming in and out is the way to achieve your financial goals.

This year we’re all about our frugal living challenge. This challenge is about cutting back on waste, saving money, living a simpler life and as a result pouring more into our pensions and savings. As part of this challenge I started with a New New Finances check and here are some of things I had to consider and some that might be of interest to others.

List Your Outgoings, Now Slash Them

When was the last time that you checked your direct debit list on your online banking or looked properly at your spending? When assessing your New Year Finances this is the perfect time to cancel anything you pay for that you no longer need or want (magazine subscriptions are a prime example) and really look at where your pennies have been going to. Looking at mine, I spent far too much in the last quarter of the year buying coffees in town and food for lunch (from Co-op not takeaway) on the way to coworking. A friend gave me a reusable mug and I have a packed lunch so having seen what these habits were costing me, I’m starting new, more frugal habits,

Happy With Your Bank?

If you are happy with your banking set-up, keep on scrolling. If not, this section could be of interest to you. Switching banks has never been easier, with them doing all of the work for you. Here in Thirsk, several banks have closed down, making it difficult for those who do use branch-based banking. Luckily I already had my business accounts and saving with Nationwide so when the local branch of my bank closed, I simply switched all of my remaining banking over to them using the Earn £100 for Switching to Nationwide incentive. It was so easy and both me and my referrer earned ourselves a £100 bonus. I’m obviously happy to refer anyone interested to Nationwide in the same way but if NW isn’t for you, do consider your options. With so many banks and building societies around your bank should be working hard for you in order to retain your custom. If they aren’t, and if they cost you fees and charges you could avoid, consider switching elsewhere.

Save First

Here’s a tip for you, save first. We used to wait and see what was left at the end of the month and put that into savings but found that with that system, there was little left! Now we have a set savings amount built into our monthly budget and put that aside before anything else. If there’s more left at the end of the month, great. If not, at least you have put something away.

New Year Finances Debt Refinancing

If you have credit cards, debts and loans, this time of year is perfect for a New Year finance checkover. Check your credit rating on Experian or other secure systems,  consider an online finance broker, speak to your bank or just shop around to make sure that you have the best deals possible. Debt needs to be paid off pronto and making minimum payments only maximises the amount you pay in interest. Make it easier to banish dead by looking at 0% balance transfers and better rates. Would this make a difference to you?

Cash Spending

This is my super-tip for you. Instead of using your debit card for everything, use cash. You’ll be much more reluctant to part with it, for sure! I now withdraw a weekly amount for groceries and use only that. When it has gone, it’s gone. It’s only been a few weeks but already I’m saving money left, right and centre. I’m planning to extend this way of spending into other areas too. I’ll report back on how that goes!

New Year Finances: In Summary

Have you done a reassessment of your finances yet?  It can be quite eye-opening and well worth the effort. It will enable you to set goals and save money. Take the time to have a look over your income and expenditure, you might be surprised by how much you’re paying out and it’s a good opportunity to call up certain companies and ask for a reduction. More about this in another post. Happy budgeting!

 

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