Frugal Living 2019 – January Update #1

Frugal Living 2019 – January Update #1

Happy New Year! This is the beginning of a new series of blog posts on frugal living. We’ve always tried to avoid waste and save, and have to say, we’ve got pretty good at it. We could do better though. For us, the end result of our frugal living goal this year is to dump a lot more money in our savings and pensions and to enjoy a somewhat more simple life. Ditching plastic where we can is also on the cards, as is more recycling. We will be clearing the clutter and looking at ways to save and make more money to add to our various savings pots).

Here is my first proper 2019 frugal living update.

Grocery Spending

We spend too much money on food. I have some rather specific dietary needs however even including that, we overspend. This has been down mostly to a lack of planning on my part. Here’s what I’ve done/am doing to remedy this, and you can to if saving money on your grocery spending is a goal:
 
  • Move to a Cash Budget: Yes, if you withdraw your spending money in cash you are much more reluctant to part with it. I certainly am. I’ve stopped using the grocery account debit card wherever possible and withdraw only what I have budgeted for the week. Anything left over at the end of the week goes into savings.
  • Take Stock: Do you know what food you have in your house? I thought I did until I did a full inventory of my fridge, freezer and cupboards. I really do not need to buy any more pasta or chopped tomatoes! Using my stock list I created a weekly meal plan for this week.
  • Meal Plan: I’m using a fab diary my sister bought me for all things grocery related. I keep my stock lists in there, create my weekly meal plan from it, then write up a shopping list (which I plan to stick to!).
  • Shop Cheap: Aldi and Lidl are my friends. The local butcher can also save you a fortune. Some are put off using a butcher because prices are per weight and so on. If you say you want a pound and a half weight of mince, that’s fine. If you say you need three steaks but don’t want to spend more than £x, they can work with that too.
 

The Car

car, mechanic, frugal living

Our car has been fab for years but in the past 6-7 months or so we’ve come to realise that it is time to let her go and trade her in for a newer (smaller) model. Smaller for fuel efficiency (ours is a 2.0l engine) and smaller because we live in a Victorian terraced street which means parking outside requires excellent timing and a shoe horn.
 
Once we’ve had her **fixed (an engine light has come on and she doesn’t like accelerating  – such a diva) we’re off to the dealership with her. We’ve had a quote for her and plan to trade her in and buy something a little cheaper (save the difference) but we’ll see what’s what on the day.
**We use a local mobile mechanic who is excellent at what he does and has years of experience under his belt. If you are local (Thirsk and surrounding) and want a recommendation, just ask!
 

Something Broke

Last year (September) I bought a halogen cooker. This is a tabletop cooker which replaces your oven and is cheaper to run. My mum has used them for years. I don’t know why it took me so long to get one. They are fantastic! Sadly, just after cooking our New Year Day lunch, the halogen gave up on me. I’ve contacted the company I bought it from and they’ve agreed that is must be faulty and that I need to return it for a refund. I’ll order a new one once that refund hits. The pain of this (other than being without my halogen) is that I have to find suitable packaging and a courier! Any recommendations on a cheap and easy to use courier service?
 

Switching Energy Supplier to Bulb

I moved us over to Bulb Energy 16 months ago and can honestly say that I have been over the moon with the savings and the service. Their commitment to renewable energy also ticks a big box for me. I earned £50 into my Bulb account when I joined as I used someone else’s referral link. A friend later joined through me using mine and we both received £50. If you want a quote (and want to use my referral link) start here: http://bit.ly/nickibulbreferral
 
Bulb, Bulb energy, frugal living
 

Frugal Living 2019

That’s pretty much where we are frugal living and savings wise. It’s only the 2nd January though so we’ve made a good start. Keep reading for further updates as we commit ourselves to spending less, saving more and altogether enjoy a more simple and frugal life.

3 Tips for Taking a More Mindful Approach to Life

mindful

One of the weirdest paradoxes of our times is that we are more materially comfortable than ever before, with technology allowing us to lounge around on the sofa for endless hours, in perfectly temperature-controlled environments, and with an endless array of interesting TV programs to watch on demand — but that, at the same time, we are apparently more stressed and anxious than ever before. With this in mind, we may all benefit from a more mindful approach to life.

For all the benefits that may come with a highly technologically-developed way of living, we also have to shoulder constant “static”, distraction, comparison to others, and so on. Finding the time and space to just relax with our thoughts and enjoy our immediate environments, has become increasingly difficult.

24/7 we’re comparing ourselves to our friends on Facebook, we’re gossipping on Twitter, we’re worrying about the latest news headlines, and we’re trying to absorb endless small information bites in the form of online articles and more.  The worrying thing is, this only describes the modern pressures that come with being digitally connected!

Finding ways to regain a more mindful approach to life can be very important in terms of our ability to unwind appreciate the moment. I completed a mindfulness diploma back at the beginning of the year and I have to say that I am glad I did. I was a very in-depth course and opened my eyes to mindful living.

Here are some suggestions for doing just that yourselves….

Dress More Mindfully

Take a more deliberate “quality over quantity” approach to your wardrobe. Many people deal with clothes in a pretty mindless way. They’ll grab whatever’s cheap and on sale, they’ll fill their wardrobe with all kinds of things they don’t really like, and they’ll feel vaguely discontented with their personal fashion. By “they”, I used to mean “me”. Taking a more deliberate, “quality over quantity” approach to your wardrobe can be a great way of reconnecting with the clothes you wear, in a mindful manner. Taking to time to inspect a stylish new ladies shirt collection and pick out a garment that really works for you, is better than buying 4 shirts cheaper shirts that don’t suit you. Consider how an item feels when you put it on, and how it makes you feel.

Consider Using a Fountain Pen to Write With

Most things that need to be written are typed, these days, and for those things that still get written out by hand, we’re more generally inclined to use cheap disposable ballpoint pens than to go to all the trouble of using a fountain pen. There are some good reasons to consider using a fountain pen to write with, however.For one thing, a fountain pen is almost a work of art. It’s an elegant device that can last you for years. It requires more attention when writing, and can produce much more attractive handwriting.There’s a whole ritual to using a fountain pen, from choosing the type of ink, to writing with intent. Writing with a fountain pen just makes the act of writing more meaningful. If this appeals to you, you might be interested in my book review of The Joy of Mindful Writing.

Reduce Your Screen Time

Use tools and services to help prevent you spending too much time online. The internet is a valuable resource, but it can absolutely be over-used, and when it is overused, you can find yourself falling through an endless abyss of clickbait headlines, videos, and memes. Use tools and services such as Cold Turkey Blocker to limit the time you spend online. With your new-found offline time, read more books instead. With a book, you get a much deeper, slower-paced, more engaging look into a subject than you do by skimming the web. Find great titles and reviews on GoodReads (web and app).

What do you consider a mindful activity? What would you like to do less of or more, to reduce the noise all around us and focus more on what is important, and what is going on around you?

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