A bumpy weekend

It has been all go this weekend. Mr S’s poor old mum took a tumble on Friday afternoon and they had to call an ambulance. Fortunately she hasn’t broken her hip, which is what the paramedics initially thought, but she has a fractured pubic bone and a broken wrist, which is bad enough.

I spent the evening with Mr S waiting for her to be assessed in A&E. I took him some dinner and stayed until 10, but he was there until 2.30am. She will be there for a while and really needs respite as she can’t easily get about. I hope they don’t rush her home anyway although she will no doubt try to persuade them she can manage. She can’t! She can’t walk and can’t even support herself on a walking frame because of the broken wrist.

We shall have to see what the OT says tomorrow.

We visited again earlier and she seems quite chipper and in better shape than some of the old girls around her. She was sitting up surrounded by family on her iPad. Not bad for an 84 year old!

I dropped DD3 to work this morning and popped into the charity shop next door with two more bags from my decluttering efforts. I let myself have a look at what they were selling today and found these cute candles and decoration for Christmas. Only 49p each 😀.

Now we are off to dinner at Mr S’s brother’s house, so a night off cooking, a small blessing after a bumpy weekend. Hoping for a less eventful week!

Regrets? I have a few…

Thanks for all the comments on my ‘young and broke’ blog the other day. It’s not easy for youngsters now even if they are organised and careful with their money. Many of them have been encouraged to go to university as a means to get a great career. In reality the job market is such that having a degree doesn’t guarantee you anything. I am a manager in a call centre and there are as many graduates working  there as non graduates. My daughter has recently graduated and managed to get a pretty decent job but many of her friends have just extended their student jobs and work in shops and cafes whilst they await their dream career. They had their expectations set so high…

It’s not a terrible salary at my place but it’s not great either. Enough to run a car or rent a room but not both. They either have to live with their parents or find an expensive house share. If they do the latter their chances of ever buying their own place are virtually non-existent unless they are lucky enough to have access to the bank of mum and dad. There are a few who scrimp and save and are absolutely determined to get on the housing ladder, which means not going out much, no splurges on new clothes or makeup, no holidays and watching every penny. I love that they are so disciplined as I know I wasn’t at that age.

When I was younger you got a full grant to go to university. I remember walking into a shop to ask if they had jobs and being given one on the spot. It was easy! I got my first house with no deposit – can you imagine any bank giving you a 100% mortgage now?

I was earning at 25 the same as the staff at my place earn now – I am now 50-something . I had no idea how lucky I was and I hugely regret not  making the most of my good fortune and saving lots or paying my mortgage off. I was hopeless with money! I had no idea! 

I didn’t start understanding money until I was getting divorced when I knew I had to embrace frugality or go under. Still,better late than never! Onwards and upwards!

Young and broke

There is a young woman at work in my office who is the kind who spends a lot around payday but has no money at all for the last week of the month. She is making the classic mistakes most of us probably made at her age. 

For the first two weeks she comes in with a Costa coffee every morning and maybe a glossy magazine. She spends her lunch hour buying clothes and make up online whilst she eats her ready made sandwich or Macdonalds. She arrives bleary eyed on Monday morning after a couple of heavy nights pubbing and clubbing.

What’s wrong with that, I hear you ask? She is a young working girl having fun! Well, nothing. It’s not my business what she spends her cash on. Except that at about halfway through the month she starts panicking. She has only £xx to last her for the next two weeks and her phone bill is due. She starts eating biscuits from the team tin for her breakfast and 10p noodles for her lunch. She moves from packet cigarettes to roll ups and finally has no money at all for cigarettes and gets very grumpy. She can’t afford to get the bus in and either takes holiday or changes her shifts so that she can beg lifts with friends.

By the end of the month she looks pale, hungry and anxious! It’s not actual FUN. She also forgot to pay her council tax so has a nice big bill to find the money for. 

The girl needs a budget. I have bigged up www.moneysavingexpert.com in the hope she will get on there and get some advice. I won’t hold my breath though!

I made all these mistakes at her age too. I really believe that financial education should be on every school curriculum, especially these days of high rents and massive mortgage deposits. It would have helped me!

Staying positive 

Feeling rather sad today. My dad has been diagnosed with a not very nice potentially life threatening disease. I’m trying not to worry too much as he has further tests but it’s hard not to. He is in pretty good health overall for an 85 year old and he and my mum are fantastically independent. I have been so lucky with them so far so have everything crossed for a good outcome. 

We went to see them both for a cup of tea yesterday and they were being very positive. He has even started decorating the bathroom! This attitude is what has got them to where they are, I swear. Neither of them let anything knock them down for long. I need to follow their good example. 

Before we went round we visited a beautiful private garden. It was so nice, with gorgeous autumn colours. We had a lovely weekend weather wise. I could have worked all weekend as I had so much to do but everyone needs some downtime so I am glad we went out for a few hours. 

If you are ever near Colchester, this is the one: Green Island Gardens. Well worth a visit!

I’ll add it to my list …

I seem to have been so busy this past week yet have so little worth blogging about! Unless you want to hear about much there is to do at work? I rarely give my job much thought when I am home but it is so frantic I find it is playing on my mind.

At least the cat knows how to relax!

There is a lot to do here as well  – loads of jobs to do before I feel happy bringing in potential lodgers. Their bedroom, the bathroom and the downstairs toilet all need work. The garden also needs several days worth of tidying up before the weather gets tooo cold. That’s the job I actually enjoy if I can find the time. I love to get outside.

I haven’t done much towards Christmas either, although I have sorted out the work team outing. I need to start my gift buying. I have normally done at least 50% by this time.

I have quite a few items I want to sell on eBay as this is the time of year when people are buying. So I have been putting a couple of bits on here and there and managed to sell three items this week.

I am quite an organised person generally and this helps me to prioritise what needs to be done first. I am a great one for lists but at the moment the lists at home and work look rather long and intimidating!

The normal cleaning and shopping won’t do themselves though so I will begin with those. DD2 is visiting today with two of her university friends and they are having a night out in Colchester. They are used to the bright lights of London so it will be interesting to see what they think of our little town.

I will be curling up with Mr S, the cats and a glass of wine as I don’t think we will have much energy to paint the town red.

Anyone else finding the pace of life a bit fast?

Frugal DIY: Shoestring Cottage presents …

Frugal DIY

We finally put the finishing touches on our little second sitting room at the weekend. I am really pleased with it. It is clean, bright and feels so much warmer. Our frugal DIY efforts have paid off and it is ready for a lodger.

I still need to complete the downstairs loo. I am going to try to make time to do a bit on Saturday morning, continuing my little and often approach to life!

A weed free gardenFrugal gardening too

We also spent a lot of Sunday weeding and tidying the front garden on Sunday. It was a beautiful sunny autumn day and great to get out in the fresh air. It is looking a bit smarter now but there is still so much to do. I want to make it much more low maintenance so I am planting shrubs and grasses and mulching with shredded bark to keep the weeds down.

I will do a few hours whenever I can to get it tidy for winter. We will get there …

Anyone else got the frugal DIY bug?

Little and often gets the job done

Well, it does for me! I finally got Mr S to start putting up the curtain rails yesterday in the lodger’s room. I hadn’t realised how creased the curtains were. They are a very thick fabric (good for keeping the drafts out) but took some ironing. One pair were from the charity shop as they fit the small window but I needed two long pairs to fit the patio doors and the other two doors that lead into the garden so I bought those new from eBay. They are a basic cream curtain but not flimsy at all as cheap curtains often are. The material is slightly imperfect but you can’t see this when they are up and I think they were a great deal at £20 a pair.

This room already feels warmer with the insulated wallpaper and the radiator foil fitted. I am really pleased with it.

I finally visited our new Lidl yesterday. It’s much bigger than Aldi with better parking and a nice bakery section. However , I spent more than usual – partly because there was more choice and DD3 was with me making me give in to temptation and partly because I think it was a bit more expensive than Aldi.

We have been to the garden centre and spent some  vouchers we were both given for our birthdays. We have focussed on plants and shrubs we can put in that will more or less take care of themselves. We need to try to make the garden more low maintenance as we don’t have time to do it justice. Too much garden and too little time!

So today we will work on the front garden and clear it up for winter then get these plants in.

Yesterday in my continuing declutter I cleared out just one bag for the charity shop, mainly old CDs that nobody listens to and then the old pine CD rack which I don’t need now that the CDs are rationalised. Little and often….

More decluttering

How odd! I published a blog post a couple of days ago and it didn’t appear. I checked to see if I had acccidentally deleted it but no – it has simply disappeared into the Blog Land ether.  So if I have been quiet this week that is why! Try again …

These were spilling over!

I cleared out yet more bags of clutter on Sunday, another 5. The charity shop loves me! I don’t know where all this stuff comes from! I never seem to buy much. I do sometimes keep things ‘ just in case’ but there has to be a limit. I cleared the three baskets above the linen cupboard in my bedroom and found about 20 toiletry and makeup bags. Some of them I don’t recall ever seeing. This is what happens when you have three daughters but two of them no longer live here so we don’t need 20! I also found various ancient hairdryers and hair curlers and some presents that I had bought for the emergency gift box and forgotten were there. I will use some of these at Christmas. 

I also cleared out a huge box of scarves, hats and gloves. We can only wear one lot at a time and I figure if I haven’t worn something for a couple of years I never will.

Mr S does not like the decluttering process as he is a bit of a hoarder. He is sure I will throw things away that will come in handy down the line. I am careful not to do that. He is great at remembering what he has and will have just the right piece of wood/ screw/ object for the job. So I won’t be touching the sheds unless he is there in case I get rid of ‘treasure’.

I find it quite cathartic to declutter, but it does mean I have been neglecting the garden. As I work full time my weekends get pretty packed but I am determined to spend a day out there this weekend. As ever, too much to do and too little time to do it!

Saving money on drying clothes, and some domestic dramas…

I have been considering buying a heated airer for some time now and spotted one that looked good in the Lakeland catalogue recently for £80. I don’t want to waste money on buying and running a tumble dryer, I think they are terrible for the environment and, besides, I don’t really have space for one in the kitchen without sacrificing a cupboard.  So I was really pleased to see a very similar one in Aldi this morning for £30! ( I know, I do get excited about some very odd things!). I think this was a pretty good impulse buy 😀. 

It already has some washing on it and appears to be working well. It can’t take quite as much weight as the Lakeland one – 5kg as opposed to 7kg. I weighed two large wet towels this morning and they were 2.5 kg to give you an idea. So you can’t load it up massively but it will take a medium load of wet clothes I think. Wet towels are pretty heavy though!

Lakeland claim their model costs about 4p an hour to run and this has the same power so I would say it will cost a similar amount. I had it on for four hours earlier to kick things off so 16p so far. I am considering buying a second one for the lodger, if we ever get one. We have some jobs to finish before we advertise the room but I hope to do so within a couple of weeks.

I discovered on the way to Aldi that the wiper on the car had completely shredded. As usually happens, I only found this out when it started to rain and I could barely see to drive! Not a great start to the day. I am not remotely interested in cars as long as they get me where I need to be and don’t cost too much to run, and I usually leave anything car related to Mr S. However, he is away so I had to go get them sorted. Luckily it wasn’t difficult or expensive – I should be more of an independent woman when it comes to these things! However, now an odd warning light has appeared and I am definitely leaving that to him for tomorrow! 

The next drama: I have started to suspect we may have a carbon monoxide leak somewhere as me and DD3 have been feeling headachy and nauseous on and off all week. This morning we both woke up feeling like our eyes were swollen. I thought it was probably a bug but felt better today when we went to see my parents. It occurred to me as we drove home to get it checked out. So we have been sitting with all the windows open waiting for the gas safety people to arrive to check the boiler and cooker. I hope they come soon as I can’t have a cup of tea until they have checked the cooker since I have a hob kettle rather than a plug in one! Luckily it isn’t too cold. 

Fingers crossed it is nothing – I don’t want to have to find the money for a new cooker or boiler. I have just ordered a carbon monoxide detector though and asked myself why we don’t already have one…

UPDATE: all clear…the gas man checked us out and no sign of carbon dioxide. I think we must both have a bug!

An evening pottering

I should be out sorting the mess that is the garden but I had a busy day learning first aid today so I’m having a constructive potter around. It gets dark early too so it would be a rush! I have packaged a couple of items I sold on eBay, sorted a mass of laundry, given the kitchen a clean, stewed a load of windfall apples to go in the freezer and I am about to do a pile of ironing. After that I will do a yoga session. Gentle but busy!

Mr S is out and DD3 is at her boyfriend’s house so it is just me and the cats. I quite like having the house to myself sometimes!

Anyone else enjoying a potter?