Tag Archives: Frugality

This week’s frugality – how are you doing?

Lost in Blog Land

I have mentioned before that I recently joined the UK Money Bloggers. The site is well worth a read as it is full of interesting articles on finance and frugality.  The members are a lovely, helpful lot with some amazing blogs. I chat regularly to the group on Facebook and they are so willing to share their experience and advice on anything blog related.

This week they have published an article of mine in the Loose Change section about my No Spend Month. Check it out if you get the chance.

Honestly, I would get lost in Blog Land if I had the time. What did we all do before the Internet? Does anybody else spend more time than they should reading lots of blogs?

 Dishwasher emergency

 Our dishwasher – a brilliant Miele one which was about 12 or 13 years old – finally bit the dust at the weekend. Mr S has pulled it out and managed to sort it on several occasions, but this time it just wouldn’t work. I bought it when there were 5 of us at Shoestring Cottage and very useful it was too. Did we need a new one? I didn’t think so. I reckoned we could go back to that quaint, old-fashioned method of a bowl of soapy water!

 However, Mr S mentioned it to his brother and sister in law, and they just happened to know of a dishwasher going for free. Last night they turned up with it and it is now in place. I just need to work out where to put the rinse aid as the light is flashing but there is no obvious place for it to go. I hope we can get it working properly. If not, we will get out the Marigolds. I’m not rushing out to get another one just yet.  There is no frugality in buying something if you don’t need it.

 Grocery challenge

Very soggy car park!

 We overspent slightly on our £35 a week grocery challenge last week. However, we managed to make this last for 10 days, so we are still on target. This week we have spent about £34. We have been having less meat and a lot of pasta and rice. However, we have been eating really healthily, with fruit, salads and yogurt on the menu as well. Anyone else still on  a grocery challenge this month? I would love to hear how you are getting on and the kind of meals you are eating.

Do you ever just get an evening where you cannot be bothered to cook? You can’t give in to a takeaway when you are on a tight budget. I feel like this tonight, having fought my way through the flooded roads of Essex and lots of traffic – with very wet feet as our car park was under 4 inches of water!  Fortunately I tend to plan an easy meal into my week, in case I am late or don’t feel great and don’t have the energy to cook after work. Tonight we are having fish in breadcrumbs, oven chips and peas. There is no shame in this and at least we aren’t going down the chippy!

I hope it is dry wherever you are and you are making some progress towards frugality!

 

 

 

 

A weekend of thrifty living and saving money

We have had a good weekend here at Shoestring Cottage. I really feel we have achieved something! We continue with our thrifty living adventures.

A new tenant

One of my aims for this month was to get a new lodger sorted. I paid a few pounds to Spare Room to have a bold advert and I’m glad I did. We have had lots more interest than last time. Yesterday I spoke to a young lady who is studying abroad but is coming to Colchester to do her masters. She seems very nice and has decided to take the room from October. This gives us time to get in once our current lodger has gone and spruce it up a bit.

Free food

thrifty livingWe have been picking blackberries. There are always tons in the car park at our local post office. No one ever seems to harvest them. We checked it was ok to have some and picked 4lbs of lovely ripe fruit.

They are already in the freezer. I will use them puréed in porridge or made into pies and crumbles over the winter.

Yellow stickers

thrifty livingDarling daughter has got lucky a few times hunting for yellow stickered food recently. She arrived just at the right time in Asda on Saturday evening and got loads of items reduced to 10p. I really must make a more concerted effort to hunt out reduced food. This will help my £35 a week grocery challenge!

Home grown

thrifty livingOn the veggie patch, the courgettes have started to slow down but are still arriving. We had our first ripe tomatoes on Saturday and there are still tons of cucumbers. These are so easy to grow if you have a greenhouse. Ours came from eBay a few years ago and cost £85 secondhand. It was a good investment.

We also have tons of runner beans, spinach and chard and some chilli peppers. I am really pleased that our apple trees look like producing their first decent crop this year too. They will go well with our foraged blackberries! We have a young plum tree too but only a couple of plums on there so far.

Seeds for free!

thrfty livinigWe did loads of much needed tidying in the garden yesterday. I am really pleased with how it is looking. It never ends though and there is still plenty to do.

I collected some seed heads from our hollyhocks and foxgloves and put them in an envelope, as instructed by Monty Don on Gardener’s World. Free seeds for next year! I love the cottage garden feel those plants give.

DIY hair cutting

thrifty livingI did some more DIY hair cutting at the weekend, just trimming the fringe and layers. I do still go to the hairdresser but a lot less frequently now that I know I can tidy it up myself between cuts.

It looks pretty ok I reckon. I do need to learn not to cut my layers quite so blunt though. Maybe I will have a look at purchasing some layering scissors with my Boots points.

I am happy with our good weekend of money saving and thrifty living. Was yours a frugal weekend?

The amazing power of bicarbonate of soda

Yesterday it was a warm and muggy day. As I walked into the house after work I was hit with a most unpleasant pong. The bins! Both the main kitchen bin and the food waste container seemed to be fermenting in the heat. Yeeeuch!

Magic white powder

I immediately reached for the bicarbonate of soda (baking soda). If I had remembered to sprinkle some of this magical powder into the bins before I put in new liners, they wouldn’t have been so smelly. I have done that now!

We always keep a big of tub of bicarbonate of soda handy as it has so many uses as a cleaner and deodoriser, as well as for making the odd muffin, of course! it is incredibly cheap for something that is so versatile.

I use wood pellets in the cat litter tray as it is better at absorbing smells, but I also sprinkle baking soda  in the bottom of the tray. It makes a huge difference.

It is good for getting rid of nasty odours in the fridge too; just leave a small bowlful at the bottom and it will help neutralise the smell.

Use bicarbonate of soda for personal care

Because of its deodorising properties, bicarbonate of soda can be used under your arms. I sometimes buy a solid deodorant from Lush that is mostly made of bicarb – and it really works! You can dab it straight onto your skin with a flannel.

It is also great for smelly feet when used in this way. Alternatively, a couple of teaspoons left overnight in stinky shoes or trainers will neutralise those nasty niffs!

I’m not a fan of this, but you can also use bicarbonate of soda to clean your teeth. Just dip your toothbrush in and brush! There are recipes online to make a more palatable minty toothpaste with it.  It can also freshen your breath if you mix a teaspoonful in a small glass of water and gargle.

Half a cup of soda in your bath will clean and soften your skin. Add a few drops of essential oil and you can abandon the bubble bath.

Gentle and effective cleaning

Bicarbonate of soda is well known as an effective and gentle household cleaner.

Use it as a scouring powder on dirt and stains pretty much anywhere in the house. Sprinkle it on a damp sponge and give surfaces a good scrub – it isn’t harsh so won’t scratch them. Tip it down the plug hole with half a cup of white vinegar to alleviate smelly drains then use it to scrub the sink!

Soak dishes with dried on food in a bowl with a couple of tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda before hand washing or placing in your dishwasher. This also works on tea stained mugs.

Sprinkle baking soda onto smelly sofas, rugs or carpets, leave for half an hour or so then vacuum. It is especially good at getting rid of pet smells.

If you have heavily soiled laundry, try add half a cup of soda alongside your washing powder or liquid. It will also brighten light coloured items.

I love bicarbonate of soda because I don’t like a houseful of chemicals. I like to keep things simple! I also try to avoid a lot of unnecessary products and packaging.  But mostly, I love bicarbonate of soda because it is cheap!

I have just ordered a 1kg bag from Amazon for £4.74 including delivery. It works out even cheaper if you purchase a 5kg tub. Please note that if you click through via either of the images above and purchase something I will earn a small commission.

Five Fabulously Frugal Things I have Done this Week: 19th May 2017

As mentioned, we are on holiday in Mallorca this week and having a lovely time on this beautiful, sunny little gem of an island. Going on holiday isn’t a fabulously frugal thing to do in itself, of course. We could have stayed at home and had a staycation, but this blog isn’t about never spending any money, it’s about having the best life you can with what you’ve got. We love a holiday and it’s Mr S’s big 5-0, so we put money aside to allow us to come away.

However, just because we are spending money it doesn’t mean we are wasting it. The first fabulously frugal thing we have done is to make the most of the all-inclusive facilities here. So far we have had all of our meals at the hotel, taken advantage of the free bottles of water to carry out with us and made full use of the free bar (hic!).

Today we are off to visit the Caves of Drach in Puerto Cristo. To save money we have found out about public buses to get to there rather than paying for an excursion. This will cost us 14 Euros each for the bus and entrance instead of 30 Euros each. 

I have saved money using Boots three for two offers on sunscreen and fake tan, as explained here.

We were fabulously frugal on the plane here, Packing up sandwiches, fruit and snacks rather than purchasing expensive airport food. We found cheap bottles of water in the duty free section to keep us hydrated, which meant we only bought one cup of tea each during the flight. 

We will take some fruit and water from the restaurant on our trip today plus Aldi’s version of Nakd bars – raw fruit bars – to give us energy whilst we are out and about.

We have bought spending money with us, of course, but so far we have barely touched it and will be taking a lot of it home with us I think!

I’m linking up with Cass,  Emma and Becky in this week’s ‘Five Fabulously Frugal things I’ve done this week’ linky.  Check out their frugal achievements this week!

Spending less and saving more in 2017

We have had a lovely day and dinner at my sister’s and we are now home and chilling. It’s nice to have a bit of quiet time to relax. 

I have been having a think about the upcoming lean January I need to have. I am absolutely determined to save more money next year than I managed in 2016. I am planning to do this in two ways:

Spending less

This is tricky as I already live a frugal lifestyle. But I am sure I can save here and there. I need to question every single purchase. Do I really need this? Can I do without it? Can I get it more cheaply?

I had two holidays in 2016, it was lovely! But it cleared out my savings. This year it is Mr S’s BIG birthday. I won’t say which, I will leave you to guess. So we will have a holiday to celebrate as that is the thing he loves to do, but just the one. 

I can spend less on groceries. I already shop in the discount supermarkets (Aldi or Lidl) but I will do more yellow sticker hunting. Tell me please, what is the best time to visit the supermarkets to find the really serious discounts? 

I need to cook more. Lack of time has made me start using more jars and more expensive short cuts. I need to find some energy and enthusiasm and do some batch cooking.

I will get control of my ad hoc spending. I have noticed that I have started buying the tempting but expensive 80p chocolate bars or bags of crisps from the machine rather than keeping a few cheaper snacks in my drawer at work. I also fall into the trap of popping to Asda or somewhere for my Lacrofree milk and cat food, but  while I am in there picking up wine, snacks, a fancy salad for work, etc. I need to go in with my blinkers in and only buy what I intended!

I will clean my own car. It only takes half an hour but I am tempted from time to time to take it to the Polish car washers. They do a great job but at £10 when it could be free.

I rarely buy new clothes, I dye my own hair and buy only basic toiletries. So nothing to save there. I am mean with the heating and fanatical about turning off lights so no savings there either. We hardly ever go out to the pub or for a meal, so not much I can cut back on.

I will do a review of all my outgoings to check to see if I can get anything such as utilities  more cheaply or cut things out all together. 

Earning more

This year I need to bring more money in. I went for a promotion but didn’t hear before Christmas so don’t think I was successful. However, there will be other chances so I will sign up to some job alerts so I don’t miss the opportunities. 

I am hoping to get a lodger. This is proving tougher than I thought but hopefully I will get some more interest in the new year. In the meantime I will keep taking the language students as I have for the past few years.

I intend to up my eBay sales . This has made me a bit extra in the past year or two – £50-£100 sometimes a month. It takes quite a bit of time but it all helps. This will go straight to savings. 

What are your top tips for making more money and spending less?

Being frugal is not being mean!

We have a monthly dress down collection at work for a different charity each time. Most people give a pound. If it is a charity close to their heart some give more. Very few people seem to have an issue with this easy form of fundraising. However, once in a while there will be the odd person. We had a man who never joined in the dress down and if you rattled the jar at him he would loudly point this out and refuse to donate. Another young girl (on a full time salary and living with her parents) would dress down but tell you she couldn’t give any money as she was ‘saving her pennies’. 

I am always a bit disappointed with this attitude. I am saving my pennies (literally! I’m doing the penny challenge) but I’m not such a tightwad that I can’t give a little money to charity. That’s not frugality, it’s downright meanness!

This is the confusion some people have with the concept of frugality. It isn’t about being mean, sitting Scrooge like in the parlour counting coins. It is about making the most of what you have, recognising your financial limitations and living the best life you can without going into debt.

It is about appreciating people and experiences rather than things, enjoying spending time with friends and family rather than trying to find fulfilment through shopping, forgetting trying to keep up with the Jones’s and realising that simplicity and frugality can make you happier than a new car and a big pile of credit card bills.

Yesterday a young man who had a very difficult period during his teenage years, when he was thrown out by his parents and helped by the local charity we were  collecting for, put £10 in the pot. He doesn’t have much spare cash but he understood the value of giving back, which was quite heartening. 

Anyway, lecture over and off my soapbox. Have a good day!

Trying out my birthday presents: Lush by name and Lush by nature

I have been trying the Lush products I got for my birthday and I am pretty impressed so far. I was given Godiva solid shampoo, Jungle solid conditioner and T’eo Krysztal deodorant. 
  The deodorant feels like a solid lump of what I suspect is bicarbonate of soda with a wax bottom holding it all together. It smells lemony and herby and I really like it. I wasn’t convinced it could really work though and I have been pleasantly surprised at how effective it is – I am even using it on my feet! Ok, I am not a manual worker and am office based so I guess I don’t sweat that much. Still,  I will buy it again. Don’t use it straight after shaving though as I did as it stings!

The shampoo bar was also nice. I only needed a bit on my hands and it lathered up really well and smelt divine. The conditioner I  still have reservations about. I am used to a big blob on my hands that is easy to distribute throughout my hair. The instructions say to run it down the hair shaft which I did but it felt more difficult to get it all over. I thought my hair would be full of tangles after but actually it wasn’t, so I will persevere. 

My hair felt really nice when it was dry. Lots of liquid products make my hair feel heavy and coated and my scalp itch. None of that with these products so far. I will need to use them for a while to see whether they are a good choice long term.

I hope I don’t have to revert back to the old products in plastic bottles! Can anyone recommend any other good products that are plastic free and cost effective?

(This is not a sponsored post and the views expressed are my own honest opinions).
 

Frugal Inspiration!!!

booksAs penny pinchers, we all need a hefty dose of reality and a bit of inspiration from time to time to keep us on track. There’s plenty on-line – I regularly use the Money Saving Expert mantra, ‘Do I really want it? Do I really need it? Can I afford it?’. However, when I hear of other people’s amazing holiday plans and start to think, maybe I could afford just a week in Ibiza, or I covet a beautiful pair of leather boots at £120, I love to sit with an inspirational book and retrain my thoughts. I have a perfectly good pair of boots that cost me £3 at, of all things, a boot sale. A holiday would be fantastic, but so would paying off my credit card – if I want a holiday I will need to save for it, and we always have the tents and camping gear, and can head off the Rendlesham Forest for the weekend in the summer.

So where do I find my inspiration? I have several books that I come back to again and again. You might pick them up second-hand on Amazon or, if you are really lucky, GreenMetropolis.com. Failing that, most library services will let you order a book if you can’t find it on the shelf.

So, my favourites:

The Tightwad Gazette
Amy Dacyczyn
An absolute classic. Dacyczyn was the first frugal blogger (well, she would have been, but the Internet was in its infancy when she was writing). It started life as a newsletter, and finally became a book in the early 1990s. She had the dream of a large family and a rural New England farmhouse, but wanted to achieve this without having two incomes and having to put her children into daycare.  The newsletter became a two way communication, with her many readers writing in to give their feedback and their frugal ideas. Still absolutely relevant.

The Penny Pincher’s Book
John and Irma Mustoe

Another classic of moneysaving, this was originally published in the late 1980s. It is to the point and often witty – “Double saving: say no to children whining for sweets – save money on sweets and even more money on dentistry”.

The Money-Less Man: A year of Freeconomic Living
Mark Boyle

More recent, and not really geared up for family money-saving, this is nonetheless a really interesting read. Boyle decided to experiment for a year to see if he could live on no money. This involved living in a caravan off-grid, foraging and growing food, making toiletries and toothpaste from natural wild ingredients and more. He even scavenged food from bins – perfectly edible but thrown away by the supermarkets.
This is quite a political book. Boyle’s message is that we crave money at the expense of communities, relationships and the environment, and that we need to realise that we cannot consume all of the world’s resources in the pursuit of things.

How I Lived a Year on Just a Pound a Day
Kath Kelly
This is a similar theme to Mark Boyle’s book, told in a really entertaining way with loads of ideas on how you can live on very little money if you really have to. Kelly wanted to save for her brother’s wedding, so resolved to live on much, much less than most of us can ever imagine doing. They say necessity is the mother of invention, and she is certainly creative in her approach. It even has a fairy tale happy ending. A nice read!

I would love to hear your recommendations for great and inspiring books. I have more on the bookshelf so part 2 might follow!